Skip to main content

Full text of "Scenes and characters of the Middle Ages"

See other formats

>e  of  Msd/ae, 





King  Henry  the  Eighth's  Army. 


By  the  Rev.  EDWARD  L.  CUTTS,  b.a. 




HANOVER   SQUARE   W    191 1 

>  of  Med/a 


J  Mid  1971 



CTUP.  *AG* 

I.  The  Origin  of  Monachism  .••••>••••! 

II.  The  Benedictine  Orders 6 

ITT.  The  Augustinian  Ordee .18 

IV.  The  Military  Orders 26 

V.  The  Orders  of  Friars ....36 

VI.   The  Convent 54 

VII.  The  Monastery      ....••...•.70 


I.  The  Hermits 93 

n.  Anchoresses,  oe  Female  Recluses 120 

in.  Anchorages 13a 

IV.  Consecrated  Widows .....152 


I.    PlLGR.MS 157 

II.  Our  Lady  of  Walsingham  and  St.  Thomas  of  Canterbury         .    176 

Tiii  Contents. 



L  The  Parochial  Clergy 195 

n.  Clerks  in  Minor  Orders .214 

III.  The  Parish  Priest 222 

IV.  Clerical  Costume ■.  232 

V.  Parsonage  Houses 252 


1 267 

n.  Sacred  Music 284 

m.  Guilds  of  Minstrels .       .  298 


I.   Saxon  Arms  and  Armour 311 

n.  Arms  and  Armour,  from  the  Norman  Conquest  downwards      .  326 

III.  Armour  of  the  Fourteenth  Century 338 

IV.  The  Days  of  Chivalry 353 

V.  Knights-Errant 369 

VI.  Military  Engines 380 

VII.  Armour  of  the  Fifteenth  Century  . 39$ 

VIII.  The  Knight's  Education      .........  406 

IX.  On  Tournaments »  423 

X.  Medieval  Bowmen 439 

XI.  Fifteenth  Century  and  later  Armour  ;  452 


I.  Beginnings  of  British  Commerce 461 

n.  The  Navy 475 

HI.  The  Social  Position  of  the  Medleval  Merchants       .       .       .  487 

IV.  Medlsval  Trade 5°3 

V.  Costume .....*••  5l8 

VI.  Medieval  Towns 52<» 




j|E  do  not  aim  in  these  chapters  at  writing  general  history,  or 
systematic  treatises.  Our  business  is  to  give  a  series  of  sketches 
of  mediaeval  life  and  mediaeval  characters,  looked  at  especially 
from  the  artist's  point  of  view.  And  first  we  have  to  do  with  the  monies  of 
the  Middle  Ages.  One  branch  of  this  subject  has  already  been  treated  in 
Mrs.  Jameson's  "  Legends  of  the  Monastic  Orders."  This  accomplished 
lady  has  very  pleasingly  narrated  the  traditionary  histories  of  the  founders 
and  saints  of  the  orders,  which  have  furnished  subjects  for  the  greatest  works 
of  mediaeval  art ;  and  she  has  placed  monachism  before  her  readers  in  its 
noblest  and  most  poetical  aspect.  Our  humbler  task  is  to  give  a  view  of 
the  familiar  daily  life  of  ordinary  monks  in  their  monasteries,  and  of  the 
way  in  which  they  enter  into  the  general  life  without  the  cloister  ; — such  a 
sketch  as  an  art-student  might  wish  to  have  who  is  about  to  study  that 
picturesque  mediaeval  period  of  English  history  for  subjects  for  his  pencil 
The  religious  orders  occupied  so  important  a  position  in  mediaeval 
society,  that  they  cannot  be  overlooked  by  the  historical  student ;  and 
the  flowing  black  robe  and  severe  intellectual  features  of  the  Benedictine 
monk,  or  the  coarse  frock  and  sandalled  feet  of  the  mendicant  friar,  are 
too  characteristic  and  too  effective,  in  contrast  with  the  gleaming  armour 


The  Monks  of  the  Middle  Ages. 

and  richly-coloured  and  embroidered  robes  of  the  sumptuous  civil 
costumes  of  the  period,  to  be  neglected  by  the  artist.  Such  an  art- 
student  would  desire  first  to  have  a  general  sketch  of  the  whole 
history  of  monachism,  as  a  necessary  preliminary  to  the  fuller  study  of 
any  particular  portion  of  it.  He  would  wish  for  a  sketch  of  the  internal 
economy  of  the  cloister ;  how  the  various  buildings  of  a  monastery  were 
arranged  ;  and  what  was  the  daily  routine  of  the  life  of  its  inmates.  He 
would  seek  to  know  under  what  circumstances  these  recluses  mingled  with 
the  outer  world.  He  would  require  accurate  particulars  of  costumes  and 
the  like  antiquarian  details,  that  the  accessories  of  his  picture  might  be 
correct.  And,  if  his  monks  are  to  be  anything  better  than  representations  of 
monkish  habits  hung  upon  "  lay  figures,"  he  must  know  what  kind  of  men 
the  Middle  Age  monks  were  intellectually  and  morally.  These  particulars 
we  proceed  to  supply  as  fully  as  the  space  at  our  command  will  permit. 

Monachism  arose  in  Egypt.  As  early  as  the  second  century  we  read  of 
men  and  women  who,  attracted  by  the  charms  of  a  peaceful,  contemplative 
life,  far  away  from  the  fierce,  sensual,  persecuting  heathen  world,  betook 
themselves  to  a  life  of  solitary  asceticism.  The  mountainous  desert  on  the 
east  of  the  Nile  valley  was  their  favourite  resort ;  there  they  lived  in  little 
hermitages,  rudely  piled  up  of  stones,  or  hollowed  out  of  the  mountain 
side,  or  in  the  cells  of  the  ancient  Egyptian  sepulchres,  feeding  on  pulse 
and  herbs,  and  water  from  the  neighbouring  spring. 

One  of  the  frescoes  in  the  Campo  Santo,  at  Pisa,  by  Pietro  Laurati, 
engraved  in  Mrs.  Jameson's  "  Legendary  Art,"  gives  a  curious  illustration 
of  this  phase  of  the  eremitical  life.  It  gives  us  a  panorama  of  the  desert, 
with  the  Nile  in  the  foreground,  and  the  rock  caverns,  and  the  little  her- 
mitages built  among  the  date-palms,  and  the  hermits  at  their  ordinary  occu- 
pations :  here  is  one  angling  in  the  Nile,  and  another  dragging  out  a  net ; 
there  is  one  sitting  at  the  door  of  his  cell  shaping  wooden  spoons.  Here, 
again,  we  see  them  engaged  in  those  mystical  scenes  in  which  an  over- 
wrought imagination  pictured  to  them  the  temptations  of  their  senses 
in  visible  demon-shapes — beautiful  to  tempt  or  terrible  to  affright ;  or 
materialised  the  spiritual  joys  of  their  minds  in  angelic  or  divine  visions  : 
Anthony  driving  out  with  his  staff  the  beautiful  demon  from  his  cell,  or 

The  Origin  of  Monachism. 

rapt  in  ecstasy  beneath  the  Divine  apparition.*  Such  pictures  of  the 
early  hermits  are  not  infrequent  in  mediaeval  art — one,  from  a  fifteenth 
century  MS.  Psalter  in  the  British  Museum  (Domit.  A.  xviL  f.  4  v), 
will  be  found  in  a  subsequent  chapter  of  this  book. 

We  can  picture  to  ourselves  how  it  must  have  startled  the  refined  Graeco- 
Egyptian  world  of  Alexandria  when  occasionally  some  man,  long  lost  to 
society  and  forgotten  by  his  friends,  reappeared  in  the  streets  and  squares 
of  the  city,  with  attenuated  limbs  and  mortified  countenance,  with  a  dark 
hair-cloth  tunic  for  his  only  clothing,  with  a  reputation  for  exalted  sanctity 
and  spiritual  wisdom,  and  vague  rumours  of  supernatural  revelations  of  the 
unseen  world  ;  like  another  John  Baptist  sent  to  preach  repentance  to  the 
luxurious  citizens ;  or  fetched,  perhaps,  by  the  Alexandrian  bishop  to  give 
to  the  church  the  weight  of  his  testimony  to  the  ancient  truth  of  some 
doctrine  which  began  to  be  questioned  in  the  schools. 

Such  men,  when  they  returned  to  the  desert,  were  frequently  accom- 
panied by  numbers  of  others,  whom  the  fame  of  their  sanctity  and  the 
persuasion  of  their  preaching  had  induced  to  adopt  the  eremitical  life. 
It  is  not  to  be  wondered  at  that  these  new  converts  should  frequently 
build,  or  select,  their  cells  in  the  neighbourhood  of  that  of  the  teacher  whom 
they  had  followed  into  the  desert,  and  should  continue  to  look  up  to  him 
as  their  spiritual  guide.  Gradually,  this  arrangement  became  systematised ; 
a  number  of  separate  cells,  grouped  round  a  common  oratory,  contained  a 
community  of  recluses  who  agreed  to  certain  rules  and  to  the  guidance  of 
a  chosen  head ;  an  enclosure  wall  was  generally  built  around  this  group, 
and  the  establishment  was  called  a  /aura. 

The  transition  from  this  arrangement  of  a  group  of  anchorites  occupying 
the  anchorages  of  a  laura  under  a  spiritual  head,  to  that  of  a  community 

*  We  cannot  pnt  down  all  these  supernatural  tales  as  fables  or  impostures  ;  similar  tales 
abound  in  the  lives  of  the  religious  people  of  the  Middle  Ages,  and  they  are  not  unknown 
in  modem  days:  e.g.,  Luther's  conflict  with  Satan  in  the  Wartzburg,  and  Colonel 
Gardiner's  vision  of  the  Saviour.  Which  of  them  (if  any)  are  to  be  considered  true 
supernatural  visions,  which  may  be  put  down  as  the  natural  results  of  spiritual  excitement 
on  the  magination,  which  are  mere  baseless  legends,  he  would  be  a  very  self-confident 
critic  who  professed  in  all  cases  to  decide. 

The  Monks  of  the  Middle  Ages. 

living  together  in  one  building  under  the  rule  of  an  abbot,  was  natural  and 
easy.  The  authorship  of  this  coenobite  system  is  attributed  to  St.  Anthony, 
who  occupied  a  ruined  castle  in  the  Nile  desert,  with  a  community  of 
disciples,  in  the  former  half  of  the  fourth  century.  The  ccenobitical  insti- 
tution did  not  supersede  the  eremitical ;  both  continued  to  flourish  together 
in  every  country  of  Christendom.* 

The  first  written  code  of  laws  for  the  regulation  of  the  lives  of  these 
communities  was  drawn  up  by  Pachomius,  a  disciple  of  Anthony's. 
Pachomius  is  said  to  have  peopled  the  island  of  Tabenne,  in  the  Nile, 
with  coenobites,  divided  into  monasteries,  each  of  which  had  a  superior, 
and  a  dean  to  every  ten  monks ;  Pachomius  himself  being  the  general 
director  of  the  whole  group  of  monasteries,  which  are  said  to  have  con- 
tained eleven  hundred  monks.  The  monks  of  St.  Anthony  are  represented 
in  ancient  Greek  pictures  with  a  black  or  brown  robe,  and  often  with  a  tau 
cross  of  blue  upon  the  shoulder  or  breast. 

St.  Basil,  afterwards  bishop  of  Cesarsea,  who  died  a.d.  378,  introduced 
monachism  into  Asia  Minor,  whence  it  spread  over  the  East.  He  drew  up 
a  code  of  laws  founded  upon  the  rule  of  Pachomius,  which  was  the  foun- 
dation of  all  succeeding  monastic  institutions,  and  which  is  still  the  rule 
followed  by  all  the  monasteries  of  the  Greek  Church.  The  rule  of  St.  Basil 
enjoins  poverty,  obedience,  and  chastity,  and  self-mortification.  The  habit 
both  of  monks  and  nuns  was,  and  still  is,  universally  in  the  Greek  Church, 
a  plain,  coarse,  black  frock  with  a  cowl,  and  a  girdle  of  leather,  or  cord. 
The  monks  went  barefooted  and  barelegged,  and  wore  the  Eastern  tonsure, 
in  which  the  hair  is  shaved  in  a  crescent  off  the  fore  part  of  the  head, 
instead  of  the  Western  tonsure,  in  which  it  is  shaved  in  a  circle  off  the 
crown.  Hilarion  is  reputed  to  have  introduced  the  Basilican  institution 
into  Syria ;  St.  Augustine  into  Africa ;  St.  Martin  of  Tours  into  France ; 
St.  Patrick  into  Ireland,  in  the  fifth  century. 

The  early  history  of  the  British  Church  is  enveloped  in  thick  obscurity,  but 
it  seems  to  have  derived  its  Christianity  (indirectly  perhaps)  from  an  Eastern 

*  Besides  consulting  the  standard  authorities  on  the  archaeology  of  the  subject,  the 
student  will  do  well  to  read  Mr.  Kingsley's  charming  book,  "  The  Hermits  of  the  Desert." 

The  Origin  of  Monachism. 

source,  and  its  monastic  system  was  probably  derived  from  that  established 
in  France  by  St.  Martin,  the  abbot-bishop  of  Tours.  One  remarkable 
feature  in  it  is  the  constant  union  of  the  abbatical  and  episcopal  offices  ; 
this  conjunction,  which  was  foreign  to  the  usage  of  the  church  in  general, 
seems  to  have  obtained  all  but  universally  in  the  British,  and  subsequently 
in  the  English  Church.  The  British  monasteries  appear  to  have  been  very 
large  ;  Bede  tells  us  that  there  were  no  less  than  two  thousand  one  hundred 
monks  in  the  monastic  establishment  of  Bangor  in  the  sixth  century,  and 
there  is  reason  to  believe  that  the  number  is  not  overstated.  They  appear 
to  have  been  schools  of  learning.  The  vows  do  not  appear  to  have  been 
perpetual ;  in  the  legends  of  the  British  saints  we  constantly  find  that  the 
monks  quitted  the  cloister  without  scruple.  The  legends  lead  us  to  imagine 
that  a  provost,  steward,  and  deans,  were  the  officers  under  the  abbot ; 
answering,  perhaps,  to  the  prior,  cellarer,  and  deans  of  Benedictine  insti- 
tutions.   The  abbot-bishop,  at  least,  was  sometimes  a  married  man. 



N  the  year  529  a.d.,  St.  Benedict,  an  Italian  of  noble  birth  and 
great  reputation,  introduced  into  his  new  monastery  on  Monte 
Cassino — a  hill  between  Rome  and  Naples — a  new  monastic  rule. 
To  the  three  vows  of  obedience,  poverty,  and  chastity,  which  formed  the 
foundation  of  most  of  the  old  rules,  he  added  another,  that  of  manual  labour 
(for  seven  hours  a  day),  not  only  for  self-support,  but  also  as  a  duty  to 
God  and  man.  Another  important  feature  of  his  rule  was  that  its  vows 
were  perpetual.  And  his  rule  lays  down  a  daily  routine  of  monastic  life 
in  much  greatep  detail  than  the  preceding  rules  appear  to  have  done. 
The  rule  of  St.  Benedict  speedily  became  popular,  the  majority  of  the 
existing  monasteries  embraced  it ;  nearly  all  new  monasteries  for  centuries 
afterwards  adopted  it ;  and  we  are  told,  in  proof  of  the  universality  of  its 
acceptation,  that  when  Charlemagne  caused  inquiries  to  be  made  about 
the  beginning  of  the  eighth  century,  no  other  monastic  rule  was  found 
existing  throughout  his  wide  dominions.  The  monasteries  of  the  British 
Church,  however,  do  not  appear  to  have  embraced  the  new  rule. 

St.  Augustine,  the  apostle  of  the  Anglo-Saxons,  was  prior  of  the  Bene- 
dictine monastery  which  Gregory  the  Great  had  founded  upon  the  Celian 
Hill,  and  his  forty  missionaries  were  monks  of  the  same  house.  It  cannot 
be  doubted  that  they  would  introduce  their  order  into  those  parts  of 
England  over  which  their  influence  extended.  But  a  large  part  of  Saxon 
England  owed  its  Christianity  to  missionaries  of  the  native  church  sent  forth 
from  the  great  monastic  institution  at  Iona  and  afterwards  at  Lindisfarne, 
andthese  would  doubtless  introduce  their  own  monastic  system.     We  find, 

The  Benedictine  Orders, 

in  fact,  that  no  uniform  rule  was  observed  by  the  Saxon  monasteries ;  some 
seem  to  have  kept  the  rule  of  Basil,  some  the  rule  of  Benedict,  and  others 
seem  to  have  modified  the  ancient  rules,  so  as  to  adapt  them  to  their  own 
circumstances  and  wishes.  We  are  not  surprised  to  learn  that  under  such 
circumstances  some  of  the  monasteries  were  lax  in  their  discipline ;  from 
Bede's  accounts  we  gather  that  some  of  them  were  only  convents  of  secular 
clerks,  bound  by  certain  rules,  and  performing  divine  offices  daily,  but 
enjoying  all  the  privileges  of  other  clerks,  and  even  sometimes  being 
married.  Indeed,  in  the  eighth  century  the  primitive  monastic  discipline 
appears  to  have  become  very  much  relaxed,  both  in  the  East  and  West, 
though  the  popular  admiration  and  veneration  of  the  monks  was  not 

In  the  illuminations  of  Anglo-Saxon  MSS.  of  the  ninth  and  tenth  cen- 
turies, we  find  the  habits  of  the  Saxon  monks  represented  of  different 
colours,  viz.,  white,  black,  dark  brown,  and  grey.*  In  the  early  MS.  Nero 
C.  iv.,  in  the  British  Museum,  at  f.  37,  occurs  a  very  clearly  drawn  group 
of  monks  in  white  habits;  another  group  occurs  at  f.  34,  rather  more 
stiffly  drawn,  in  which  the  margin  of  the  hood  and  the  sleeves  is  bordered 
with  a  narrow  edge  of  ornamental  work. 

About  the  middle  of  the  ninth  century,  however,  Archbishop  Dunstan 
reduced  all  the  Saxon  monasteries  to  the  rule  of  St,  Benedict ;  not  without 
opposition  on  the  part  of  some  of  them,  and  not  without  rather  peremptory 
treatment  on  his  part ;  and  thus  the  Benedictine  rule  became  universal  in 
the  West  The  habit  of  the  Benedictines  consisted  of  a  white  woollen 
cassock,  and  over  that  an  ample  black  gown  and  a  black  hood.  We  give 
here  an  excellent  representation  of  a  Benedictine  monk,  from  a  book 
which  formerly  belonged  to  St.  Alban's  Abbey,  and  now  is  preserved  in 
the  British  Museum  (Nero  D.  vii.  f.  81).  The  book  is  the  official  catalogue 
which  each  monastery  kept  of  those  who  had  been  benefactors  to  the 
hoase,  and  who  were  thereby  entitled  to  their  grateful  remembrance  and 
their  prayers.  In  many  cases  the  record  of  a  benefaction  is  accompanied 
by  an  illuminated  portrait  of  the  benefactor.     In  the  present  case,  he  is 

Strutt's  "  Dress  and  Habits  of  the  People  of  England." 


The  Monks  of  the  Middle  Ages, 

represented  as  holding  a  golden  tankard  in  one  hand  and  an  embroidered 
cloth  in  the  other,  gifts  which  he  made  to  the  abbey,  and  for  which  he  is 

thus  immortalised  in  their  Catalogus  Betiefac- 
torum.  Other  illustrations  of  Benedictine  monks, 
of  early  fourteenth  century  date,  may  be  found 
in  the  Add.  MS.  17,687,  at  f.  3;  again  at  f.  6, 
where  a  Benedictine  is  preaching ;  and  again 
at  f.  34,  where  one  is  preaching  to  a  group 
of  nuns  of  the  same  order;  and  at  f.  41,  where 
one  is  sitting  writing  at  a  desk  (as  in  the  scrip- 
torium, probably).  Yet  again  in  the  MS. 
Royal  20  D.  vii.,  is  a  picture  of  St.  Benedict 
preaching  to  a  group  of  his  monks.  A  con- 
siderable number  of  pictures  of  Benedictine 
monks,  illustrating  a  mediaeval  legend  of  which 
they  are  the  subject,  occur  in  the  lower  margin 
of  the  MS.  Royal  10  E.  iv.,  which  is  of  late 
thirteenth  or  early  fourteenth  century  date.  A 
drawing  of  Abbot  Islip  of  Westminster,  who 
died  a.d.  1532,  is  given  in  the  "Vetusta  Monumenta,"  vol.  iv.  PL  xvi. 
In  working  and  travelling  they  wore  over  the  cossack  a  black  sleeveless 
tunic  of  shorter  and  less  ample  dimensions. 

The  female  houses  of  the  order  had  the  same  regulations  as  those  of  the 
monks ;  their  costume  too  was  the  same,  a  white  under  garment,  a  black 
gown  and  black  veil,  with  a  white  wimple  around  the  face  and  neck. 
They  had  in  England,  at  the  dissolution  of  the  monasteries,  one  hundred 
and  twelve  monasteries  and  seventy-four  nunneries.*  For  illustration  of 
an  abbess  see  the  fifteenth  century  MS.  Royal  16  F.  ii.  at  f.  137. 

The  Benedictine  rule  was  all  but  universal  in  the  West  for  four 
centuries ;  but  during  this  period  its  observance  gradually  became  relaxed. 

Benedictine  Monk. 

*  This  is  the  computation  of  Tanner  in  his  "  Notitia  Monastica ;"  but  the  editors  of  the 
last  edition  of  Dugdale's  "Monasticon,"  adding  the  smaller  houses  or  cells,  swell  the 
number  of  Benedictine  establishments  in  England  to  a  total  of  two  hundred  and  fifty- 

The  Benedictifie  Orders, 

We  cannot  be  surprised  if  it  was  found  that  the  seven  hours  of  manual 
labour  which  the  rule  required  occupied  time  which  might  better  be 
devoted  to  the  learned  studies  for  which  the  Benedictines  were  then,  as 
they  have  always  been,  distinguished.  We  should  have  anticipated  that 
the  excessive  abstinence,  and  many  other  of  the  mechanical  observances 
of  the  rule,  would  soon  be  found  to  have  little  real  utility  when  simply 
enforced  by  a  rule,  and  not  practised  willingly  for  the  sake  of  self-dis- 
cipline. We  are  not  therefore  surprised,  nor  should  we  in  these  days 
attribute  it  as  a  fault,  that  the  obligation  to  labour  appears  to  have  been 
very  generally  dispensed  with,  and  some  humane  and  sensible  relaxations 
of  the  severe  ascetic  discipline  and  dietary  of  the  primitive  rule  to  have 
been  very  generally  adopted.  Nor  will  any  one  who  has  any  experience 
of  human  nature  expect  otherwise  than  that  among  so  large  a  body  of 
men — many  of  them  educated  from  childhood  *  to  the  monastic  profession — 
there  would  be  some  who  were  wholly  unsuited  for  it,  and  some  whose  vices 
brought  disgrace  upon  it.  The  Benedictine  monasteries,  then,  at  the  time 
of  which  we  are  speaking,  had  become  different  from  the  poor  retired  com- 
munities of  self-denying  ascetics  which  they  were  originally.  Their  general 
character  was,  and  continued  throughout  the  Middle  Ages  to  be,  that  of 
wealthy  and  learned  bodies ;  influential  from  their  broad  possessions,  but 
still  more  influential  from  the  fact  that  nearly  all  the  literature,  and  art, 
and  science  of  the  period  was  to  be  found  in  their  body.    They  were  good 

•  If  a  child  was  to  be  received  his  hand  was  wrapped  in  the  hanging  of  the  altar,  "  and 
then,"  says  the  rule  of  St.  Benedict,  "  let  them  offer  him.''  The  words  are  "  Si  quas 
forte  de  nobilibus  offert  rilium  suum  Deo  in  monasterio,  si  ipse  puer  minore  aetate  est, 
parentes  ejus  faciant  petitionem  et  manum  pueri  involvant  in  pallu  altaris,  et  sic  eum 
offerunt "  (c.  59).  The  Abbot  Herman  tells  us  that  in  the  year  1055  his  mother  took  him 
and  his  brothers  to  the  monastery  of  which  he  was  afterwards  abbot.  "  She  went  to 
St.  Martin's  (at  Tournay),  and  delivered  over  her  sons  to  God,  placing  the  little  one  in 
his  cradle  upon  the  altar,  amidst  the  tears  of  many  bystanders  "  ( Mai t land  s  "  Dark 
Ages,''  p.  78).  The  precedents  for  such  a  dedication  of  an  infant  to  an  ascetic  life  are,  of 
course,  the  case  of  Samuel  dedicated  by  his  mother  from  infancy,  and  of  Samson  and 
John  Baptist,  who  were  directed  by  God  to  be  consecrated  as  Nazarites  from  birth.  A 
law  was  made  prohibiting  the  dedication  of  children  at  an  earlier  age  than  fourteen. 
At  f.  209  of  the  MS.  Nero  D.  vii.,  is  a  picture  of  St.  Benedict,  to  whom  a  boy  in 
monk's  habit  is  holding  a  book,  and  he  is  reading  or  preaching  to  a  group  of  monks. 

IO  The  Monks  of  the  Middle  Ages. 

landlords  to  their  tenants,  good  cultivators  of  their  demesnes;  great  patrons 
of  architecture,  and  sculpture,  and  painting ;  educators  of  the  people  in 
their  schools ;  healers  of  the  sick  in  their  hospitals ;  great  almsgivers 
to  the  poor ;  freely  hospitable  to  travellers ;  they  continued  regular  and 
constant  in  their  religious  services;  but  in  housing,  clothing,  and  diet, 
they  lived  the  life  of  temperate  gentlemen  rather  than  of  self-mortifying 
ascetics.  Doubtless,  as  we  have  said,  in  some  monasteries  there  were 
evil  men,  whose  vices  brought  disgrace  upon  their  calling;  and  there 
were  some  monasteries  in  which  weak  or  wicked  rulers  had  allowed  the 
evil  to  prevail.  The  quiet,  unostentatious,  every-day  virtues  of  such 
monastics  as  these  were  not  such  as  to  satisfy  the  enthusiastical  seeker 
after  monastical  perfection.  Nor  were  they  such  as  to  command  the 
admiration  of  the  unthinking  and  illiterate,  who  are  always  more  prone 
to  reverence  fanaticism  than  to  appreciate  the  more  sober  virtues,  who 
are  ever  inclined  to  sneer  at  religious  men  and  religious  bodies  who  have 
wealth,  and  are  accustomed  to  attribute  to  a  whole  class  the  vices  of  its 
disreputable  members. 

The  popular  disrepute  into  which  the  monastics  had  fallen  through 
their  increased  wealth,  and  their  departure  from  primitive  monastical 
austerity,  led,  during  the  next  two  centuries,  viz.,  from  the  beginning  of 
the  tenth  to  the  end  of  the  eleventh,  to  a  series  of  endeavours  to  revive 
the  primitive  discipline.  The  history  of  all  these  attempts  is  very  nearly 
alike.  Some  young  monk  of  enthusiastic  disposition,  disgusted  with  the 
laxity  or  the  vices  of  his  brother  monks,  flies  from  the  monastery,  and 
betakes  himself  to  an  eremitical  life  in  a  neighbouring  forest  or  wild 
mountain  valley.  Gradually  a  few  men  of  like  earnestness  assemble  round 
him.  He  is  at  length  induced  to  permit  himself  to  be  placed  at  their 
head  as  their  abbot,  requires  his  followers  to  observe  strictly  the  ancient 
rule,  and  gives  them  a  few  other  directions  of  still  stricter  life.  The  new 
community  gradually  becomes  famous  for  its  virtues ;  the  Pope's  sanction 
is  obtained  for  it ;  its  followers  assume  a  distinctive  dress  and  name ;  and 
take  their  place  as  a  new  religious  order.  This  is  in  brief  the  history  of 
the  successive  rise  of  the  Clugniacs,  the  Carthusians,  the  Cistercians,  and 
the  orders  of  Camaldoli  and  Vallombrosa  and  Grandmont ;  they  all  sprang 

The  Benedictine  Orders*  1 1 

thus  out  of  the  Benedictine  order,  retaining  the  rule  of  Benedict  as  the 
groundwork  of  their  several  systems.  Their  departures  from  the  Bene- 
dictine rule  were  comparatively  few  and  trifling,  and  need  not  be 
enumerated  in  such  a  sketch  as  this :  they  were  in  fact  only  reformed 
Benedictines,  and  in  a  general  classification  may  be  included  with  the 
parent  order,  to  which  these  rivals  imparted  new  tone  and  vigour. 

The  following  account  of  the  foundation  of  Clairvaux  by  St.  Bernard 
will  illustrate  these  general  remarks.  It  is  true  that  the  founding  of 
Clairvaux  was  not  technically  the  founding  of  a  new  order,  for  it  had  been 
founded  fifteen  years  before  in  Citeaux ;  but  St.  Bernard  was  rightly 
esteemed  a  second  founder  of  the  Cistercians,  and  his  going  forth  from  the 
parent  house  to  found  the  new  establishment  at  Clairvaux  was  under  circum- 
stances which  make  the  narrative  an  excellent  illustration  of  the  subject 

"Twelve  monks  and  their  abbot,"  says  his  life  in  the  "  Acta  Sanctorum," 
"  representing  our  Lord  and  his  apostles,  were  assembled  in  the  church. 
Stephen  placed  a  cross  in  Bernard's  hands,  who  solemnly,  at  the  head  of 

his  small  band,  walked  forth  from  Citeaux. Bernard  struck 

away  to  the  northward.  For  a  distance  of  nearly  ninety  miles  he  kept 
this  course,  passing  up  by  the  source  of  the  Seine,  by  Chatillon,  of  school- 
day  memories,  till  he  arrived  at  La  Ferte,  about  equally  distant  between 
Troyes  and  Chaumont,  in  the  diocese  of  Langres,  and  situated  on  the 
river  Aube.  About  four  miles  beyond  La  Ferte  was  a  deep  valley  opening 
to  die  east.  Thick  umbrageous  forests  gave  it  a  character  of  gloom  and 
wildness  ;  but  a  gushing  stream  of  limpid  water  which  ran  through  it  was 
sufficient  to  redeem  every  disadvantage.  In  June,  a.d.  1115,  Bernard 
took  up  his  abode  in  the  valley  of  Wormwood,  as  it  was  called,  and  began 
to  look  for  means  of  shelter  and  sustenance  against  the  approaching 
winter.  The  rude  fabric  which  he  and  his  monks  raised  with  their  own 
hands  was  long  preserved  by  the  pious  veneration  of  the  Cistercians.  It 
consisted  of  a  building  covered  by  a  single  roof,  under  which  chapel, 
dormitory,  and  refectory  were  all  included.  Neither  stone  nor  wood  hid 
the  bare  earth,  which  served  for  floor.  Windows  scarcely  wider  than  a 
man's  hand  admitted  a  feeble  light.  In  this  room  the  monks  took  their 
frugal  meals  of  herbs  and  water.     Immediately  above  the  refectory  was  the 

12  The  Monks  of  the  Middle  Ages. 

sleeping  apartment.  It  was  reached  by  a  ladder,  and  was,  in  truth,  a  sort 
of  loft.  Here  were  the  monks'  beds,  which  were  peculiar.  They  were 
made  in  the  form  of  boxes  or  bins  of  wooden  planks,  long  and  wide 
enough  for  a  man  to  lie  down  in.  A  small  space,  hewn  out  with  an  axe, 
allowed  room  for  the  sleeper  to  get  in  or  out.  The  inside  was  strewn  with 
chaff,  or  dried  leaves,  which,  with  the  woodwork,  seem  to  have  been 

the  only  covering  permitted The  monks  had  thus  got  a 

house  over  their  heads;  but  they  had  very  little  else.  They  had  left 
Citeaux  in  June.  Their  journey  had  probably  occupied  them  a  fortnight, 
their  clearing,  preparations,  and  building,  perhaps  two  months ;  and  thus 
they  would  be  near  September  when  this  portion  of  their  labour  was 
accomplished.  Autumn  and  winter  were  approaching,  and  they  had  no 
store  laid  by.  Their  food  during  the  summer  had  been  a  compound  of 
leaves  intermixed  with  coarse  grain.  Beech-nuts  and  roots  were  to  be 
their  main  support  during  the  winter.  And  now  to  the  privations  of 
insufficient  food  was  added  the  wearing  out  of  their  shoes  and  clothes. 
Their  necessities  grew  with  the  severity  of  the  season,  till  at  last  even  salt 
failed  them ;  and  presently  Bernard  heard  murmurs.  He  argued  and 
exhorted ;  he  spoke  to  them  of  the  fear  and  love  of  God,  and  strove  to 
rouse  their  drooping  spirits  by  dwelling  on  the  hopes  of  eternal  life  and 
Divine  recompense.  Their  sufferings  made  them  deaf  and  indifferent  to 
their  abbot's  words.  They  would  not  remain  in  this  valley  of  bitterness ;  they 
would  return  to  Citeaux.  Bernard,  seeing  they  had  lost  their  trust  in  God, 
reproved  them  no  more  ;  but  himself  sought  in  earnest  prayer  for  release 
from  their  difficulties.  Presently  a  voice  from  heaven  said,  'Arise, 
Bernard,  thy  prayer  is  granted  thee.'  Upon  which  the  monks  said,  '  What 
didst  thou  ask  of  the  Lord  ?'  '  Wait,  and  ye  shall  see,  ye  of  little  faith,'  was 
the  reply ;  and  presently  came  a  stranger  who  gave  the  abbot  ten  livres." 

William  of  St.  Thierry,  the  friend  and  biographer  of  St.  Bernard,  describes 
the  external  aspect  and  the  internal  life  of  Clairvaux.  We  extract  it  as  a 
sketch  of  the  highest  type  of  monastic  life,  and  as  a  corrective  of  the 
revelations  of  corrupter  life  among  the  monks  which  find  illustration  in 
these  pages. 

"At    the  first  glance  as   you   entered   Clairvaux  by  descending   the 

The  Benedictine  Orders.  13 

hill  you  could  see  it  was  a  temple  of  God ;  and  the  still,  silent  valley 
bespoke,  in  the  modest  simplicity  of  its  buildings,  the  unfeigned  humility 
of  Christ's  poor.  Moreover,  in  this  valley  full  of  men,  where  no  one 
was  permitted  to  be  idle,  where  one  and  all  were  occupied  with  their 
allotted  tasks,  a  silence  deep  as  that  of  night  prevailed.  The  sounds 
of  labour,  or  the  chants  of  the  brethren  in  the  choral  service,  were  the 
only  exceptions.  The  order  of  this  silence,  and  the  fame  that  went 
forth  of  it,  struck  such  a  reverence  even  into  secular  persons  that  they 
dreaded  breaking  it — I  will  not  say  by  idle  or  wicked  conversation,  but 
even  by  pertinent  remarks.  The  solitude,  also,  of  the  place — between 
dense  forests  in  a  narrow  gorge  of  neighbouring  hills — in  a  certain  sense 
recalled  the  cave  of  our  father  St.  Benedict,  so  that  while  they  strove  to 
imitate  his  life,  they  also  had  some  similarity  to  him  in  their  habitation 

and  loneliness Although  the  monastery  is  situated  in  a  valley, 

it  has  its  foundations  on  the  holy  hills,  whose  gates  the  Lord  loveth  more 
than  all  the  dwellings  of  Jacob.  Glorious  things  are  spoken  of  it,  because 
the  glorious  and  wonderful  God  therein  worketh  great  marvels.  There 
the  insane  recover  their  reason,  and  although  their  outward  man  is  worn 
away,  inwardly  they  are  born  again.  There  the  proud  are  humbled,  the 
rich  are  made  poor,  and  the  poor  have  the  Gospel  preached  to  them,  and 
the  darkness  of  sinners  is  changed  into  light  A  large  multitude  of  blessed 
poor  from  the  ends  of  the  earth  have  there  assembled,  yet  have  they  one 
heart  and  one  mind ;  justly,  therefore,  do  all  who  dwell  there  rejoice  with 
no  empty  joy.  They  have  the  certain  hope  of  perennial  joy,  of  their 
ascension  heavenward  already  commenced.  In  Clairvaux  they  have  found 
Jacob's  ladder,  with  angels  upon  it ;  some  descending,  who  so  provide  for 
their  bodies  that  they  faint  not  on  the  way ;  others  ascending,  who  so  rule 
their  souls  that  their  bodies  hereafter  may  be  glorified  with  them. 

"  For  my  part,  the  more  attentively  I  watch  them  day  by  day,  the  more 
do  I  believe  that  they  are  perfect  followers  of  Christ  in  all  things.  When 
they  pray  and  speak  to  God  in  spirit  and  in  truth,  by  their  friendly  and 
quiet  speech  to  Him,  as  well  as  by  their  humbleness  of  demeanour,  they  are 
plainly  seen  to  be  God's  companions  and  friends.  When,  on  the  other 
hand,  they  openly  praise  God  with  psalmody,  how  pure  and  fervent  are 

14  The  Monks  of  the  Middle  Ages, 

their  minds,  is  shown  by  their  posture  of  body  in  holy  fear  and  reverence, 
while  by  their  careful  pronunciation  and  modulation  of  the  psalms,  is 
shown  how  sweet  to  their  lips  are  the  words  of  God — sweeter  than  honey 
to  their  mouths.  As  I  watch  them,  therefore,  singing  without  fatigue  from 
before  midnight  lo  the  dawn  of  day,  with  only  a  brief  interval,  they  appear 
a  little  less  than  the  angels,  but  much  more  than  men 

"  As  regards  their  manual  labour,  so  patiently  and  placidly,  with  such 
quiet  countenances,  in  such  sweet  and  holy  order,  do  they  perform  all 
things,  that  although  they  exercise  themselves  at  many  works,  they  never 
seem  moved  or  burdened  in  anything,  whatever  the  labour  may  be.  Whence 
it  is  manifest  that  that  Holy  Spirit  worketh  in  them  who  disposeth  of  all 
things  with  sweetness,  in  whom  they  are  refreshed,  so  that  they  rest  even 
in  their  toil.  Many  of  them,  I  hear,  are  bishops  and  earls,  and  many 
illustrious  through  their  birth  or  knowledge ;  but  now,  by  God's  grace,  all 
acceptation  of  persons  being  dead  among  them,  the  greater  any  one  thought 
himself  in  the  world,  the  more  in  this  flock  does  he  regard  himself  as  less 
than  the  least.  I  see  them  in  the  garden  with  hoes,  in  the  meadows  with 
forks  or  rakes,  in  the  fields  with  scythes,  in  the  forest  with  axes.  To  judge 
from  their  outward  appearance,  their  tools,  their  bad  and  disordered 
clothes,  they  appear  a  race  of  fools,  without  speech  or  sense.  But  a  true 
thought  in  my  mind  tells  me  that  their  life  in  Christ  is  hidden  in  the 
heavens.  Among  them  I  see  Godfrey  of  Peronne,  Raynald  of  Picardy, 
William  of  St.  Omer,  Walter  of  lisle,  all  of  whom  I  knew  formerly  in  the 
old  man,  whereof  I  now  see  no  trace,  by  God's  favour.  I  knew  them 
proud  and  puffed  up ;  I  see  them  walking  humbly  under  the  merciful  hand 
of  God." 

The  first  of  these  reformed  orders  was  the  Clugniac,  so  called  because 
it  was  founded,  in  the  year  927,  at  Clugny,  in  Burgundy,  by  Odo  the 
Abbot.  The  Clugniacs  formally  abrogated  the  requirement  of  manual  labour 
required  in  the  Benedictine  rule,  and  professed  to  devote  themselves  more 
sedulously  to  the  cultivation  of  the  mind.  The  order  was  first  introduced 
into  England  in  the  year  1077  a.d.,  at  Lewes,  in  Sussex;  but  it  never 
became  popular  in  England,  and  never  had  more  than  twenty  houses 
here,  and  they  small  ones,  and  nearly  all  of  them  founded  before  the  reiga 

The  Benedictine  Orders* 


of  Henry  II.  Until  the  fourteenth  century  they  were  all  priories 
dependent  on  the  parent  house  of  Clugny;  though  the  prior  of  Lewes 
was  the  High  Chamberlain,  and  often  the  Vicar-general,  of  the  Abbot  of 
Clugny,  and  exercised  a  supervision  over  the  English  houses  of  the  order. 
The  English  houses  were  all  governed  by  foreigners,  and  contained  more 
foreign  than  English  monks,  and  sent  large  portions  of  their  surplus 
revenues  to  Clugny.  Hence  they  were  often  seized,  during  war  between 
England  and  France,  as  alien  priories.  But  in  the  fourteenth  century 
many  of  them  were  made  denizen,  and  Bermondsey  was  made  an  abbey, 
and  they  were  all  discharged  from  subjection  to 
the  foreign  abbeys.  The  Clugniacs  retained  the 
Benedictine  habit  At  Cowfold  Church,  Sussex, 
still  remains  a  monumental  brass  of  Thomas 
Nelond,  who  was  prior  of  Lewes  at  his  death, 
in  1433  a^-j  m  which  he  is  represented  in  the 
habit  of  his  order.* 

In  the  year  1084  a.d.,  the  Carthusian  order 
was  founded  by  St.  Bruno,  a  monk  of  Cologne, 
at  Chartreux,  near  Grenoble.  This  was  the  most 
severe  of  all  the  reformed  Benedictine  orders. 
To  the  strictest  observance  of  the  rule  of  Bene- 
dict they  added  almost  perpetual  silence ;  flesh 
was  forbidden  even  to  the  sick ;  their  food  was 
confined  to  one  meal  of  pulse,  bread,  and  water, 
daily.  It  is  remarkable  that  this  the  strictest 
of  all  monastic  rules  lias,  even  to  the  present 
day,  been  but  slightly  modified ;  and  that  the  Carthusian  Monk. 

monks  have  never  been  accused  of  personally  deviating  from  it.  The 
order  was  numerous  on  the  Continent,  but  only  nine  houses  of  the  order 
were  ever  established  in  England.  The  principal  of  these  was  the  Charter- 
house (Chartreux),  in  London,  which,  at  the  dissolution,  was  rescued 
by  Thomas  Sutton  to  serve  one  at  least  of  the  purposes  of  its  original 

*  Engraved  in  Boutell'a  "  Monumental  Brasses," 


The  Monks  of  the  Middle  Ages, 


foundation — the  training  of  youth  in  sound  religious  learning.  There  were 
few  nunneries  of  the  order — none  in  England.  The  Carthusian  habit  con- 
sisted of  a  white  cassock  and  hood,  over  that  a  white  scapulary — a  long 
piece  of  cloth  which  hangs  down  before  and  behind,  and  is  joined  at  the 
sides  by  a  band  of  the  same  colour,  about  six  inches  wide ;  unlike  the 
other  orders,  they  shaved  the  head  entirely. 

The  representation  of  a  Carthusian  monk,  on  previous  page,  is  reduced 
from  one  of  Hollar's  well-known  series  of  prints  of  monastic  cos- 
tumes.    Another   illustration  may   be  referred  to   in   a  fifteenth  century 

book  of  Hours  (Add.),  at  f.  10,  where  one 
occurs  in  a  group  of  religious,  which  includes 
also  a  Benedictine  and  a  Cistercian  abbot, 
and  others. 

In  1098  a.d.,  arose  the  Cistercian  order. 
It  took  the  name  from  Citeaux  (Latinised  into 
Cistercium),  the  house  in  which  the  new  order 
was  founded  by  Robert  de  Thierry.  Stephen 
Harding,  an  Englishman,  the  third  abbot, 
brought  the  new  order  into  some  repute ; 
but  it  is  to  the  fame  of  St.  Bernard,  who 
joined  it  in  n  13  a.d.,  that  the  speedy  and 
widespread  popularity  of  the  new  order  is  to 
be  attributed.  The  order  was  introduced  into 
England  at  Waverly,  in  Surrey,  in  n 28  a.d. 
The  Cistercians  professed  to  observe  the  rule 
of  St.  Benedict  with  rigid  exactness,  only  that 
some  of  the  hours  which  were  devoted  by 
the  Benedictines  to  reading  and  study,  the  Cistercians  devoted 
to  manual  labour.  They  affected  a  severe  simplicity;  their  houses 
were  to  be  simple,  with  no  lofty  towers,  no  carvings  or  represen- 
tation of  saints,  except  the  crucifix;  the  furniture  and  ornaments 
of  their  establishments  were  to  be  in  keeping — chasubles  of  fustian, 
candlesticks  of  iron,  napkins  of  coarse  cloth,  the  cross  of  wood,  and  only 
the  chalice  might  be  of  precious  metal.     The  amount  of  manual  labour 

Cistercian  Monk. 

T/ie  Benedictine  Orders, 


prevented  the  Cistercians  from  becoming  a  learned  order,  though  they  did 
produce  a  few  men  distinguished  in  literature ;  they  were  excellent  farmers 
and  horticulturists,  and  are  said  in  early  times  to  have  almost  monopolised 
the  wool  trade  of  the  kingdom.  They  changed  the  colour  of  the  Bene- 
dictine habit,  wearing  a  white  gown  and  hood  over  a  white  cassock ;  when 
they  went  beyond  the  walls  of  the  monastery  they  also  wore  a  black  cloak. 
St.  Bernard  of  Clairvaux  is  the  great 
saint  of  the  order.  They  had  seventy- 
five  monasteries  and  twenty-six  nun- 
neries in  England,  including  some  of 
the  largest  and  finest  in  the  kingdom. 

The  cut  represents  a  group  of  Cister- 
cian monks,  from  a  MS.  (Vitellius  A. 
13)  in  the  British  Museum.  It  shows 
some  of  them  sitting  with  hands  crossed 
and  concealed  in  their  sleeves — an  atti- 
tude which  was  considered  modest  and 
respectful  in  the  presence  of  superiors  ; 
some  with  the  cowl  over  the  head.  It 
will  be  observed  that  some  are  and 
some  are  not  bearded. 

The  Cistercian  monk,  whom  we  give 
ia  the  opposite  woodcut,  is  taken  from  Hollar's  plate. 

Other  reformed  Benedictine  orders  which  arose  in  the  eleventh  century, 
viz.,  the  order  of  Camaldoli,  in  1027  a.d.,  and  that  of  Vallombrosa,  in 
1073  a.d.,  did  not  extend  to  England.  The  order  of  the  Grandmon- 
tines  had  one  or  two  alien  priories  here. 

The  preceding  orders  differ  among  themselves,  but  the  rule  of  Benedict 
is  the  foundation  of  their  discipline,  and  they  are  so  far  impressed  with  a 
common  character,  and  actuated  by  a  common  spirit,  that  we  may  consider 
them  all  as  forming  the  Benedictine  iainily.. 

Group  of  Cistercian  Monks. 



E  come  next  to  another  great  monastic  family  which  is  included 
under  the  generic  name  of  Augustinians.  The  Augustinians 
claim  the  great  St.  Augustine,  Bishop  of  Hippo,  as  their  founder, 
and  relate  that  he  established  the  monastic  communities  in  Africa,  and  gave 
them  a  rule.  That  he  did  patronise  monachism  in  Africa  we  gather  from 
his  writings,  but  it  is  not  clear  that  he  founded  any  distinct  order ;  nor  was 
any  order  called  after  his  name  until  the  middle  of  the  ninth  century.  About 
that  time  all  the  various  denominations  of  clergy  who  had  not  entered  the 
ranks  of  monachism — priests,  canons,  clerks,  &c. — were  incorporated  by  a 
decree  of  Pope  Leo  III.  and  the  Emperor  Lothaire  into  one  great  order,  and 
were  enjoined  to  observe  the  rule  which  was  then  known  under  the  name 
of  St.  Augustine,  but  which  is  said  to  have  been  really  compiled  by  Ivo 
de  Chartres  from  the  writings  of  St.  Augustine.  It  was  a  much  milder 
rule  than  the  Benedictine.  The  Augustinians  were  divided  into  Canons 
Secular  and  Canons  Regular. 

The  Canons  Secular  of  St.  Augustine  were  in  fact  the  clergy  of 
cathedral  and  collegiate  churches,  who  lived  in  community  on  the  monastic 
model ;  their  habit  was  a  long  black  cassock  (the  parochial  clergy  did  not 
then  universally  wear  black) ;  over  which,  during  divine  service,  they  wore 
a  surplice  and  a  fur  tippet,  called  an  almuce,  and  a  four-square  black  cap, 
called  a  baret ;  and  at  other  times  a  black  cloak  and  hood  with  a  leather 
girdle.  According  to  their  rule  they  might  wear  their  beards,  but  from  the 
thirteenth  century  downwards  we  find  them  usually  shaven.  In  the 
Canon's  Yeoman's  tale,  from  which  the  following  extract  is  taken,  Chaucer 

The  Augustinian  Orders.  19 

gives  us  a  pen-and-ink  sketch  of  a  canon,  from  which  it  would  seem  that 

even  on  a  journey  he  wore  the  surplice  and  fur  hood  under  the  black 


**  Ere  we  had  ridden  folly  five  mile," 
At  Brighton  under  Blee  us  gan  atake  [overtake] 
A  man  that  clothed  was  in  clothes  blake, 
And  underneath  he  wered  a  surplice. 
•  •  •  • 

And  in  my  hearte  wondren  I  began 
What  that  he  was,  till  that  I  understood 
How  that  his  cloak  was  sewed  to  his  hood,* 
For  which  when  I  had  long  avised  me, 
I  deemed  him  some  chanon  for  to  be. 
His  hat  hung  at  his  back  down  by  a  lace." 

The  hat  which  hung  behind  may  have  been  like  that  of  the  abbot  in  a 
subsequent  woodcut ;  but  he  wore  his  hood ;  and  Chaucer,  with  his  usual 
humour  and  life-like  portraiture,  tells  us  how  he  had  put  a  burdock  leaf 
■ander  his  hood  because  of  the  heat : — 

*«  A  clote-leaf  he  had  laid  under  his  hood 
For  sweat,  and  for  to  keep  his  head  from  heat. 

Chaucer  rightly  classes  the  canons  rather  with  priests  than  monks : — 

■  All  be  he  monk  or  frere, 
Priest  or  chanon,  or  any  other  wight." 

The  canon  whom  we  give  in  the  wood-cut  over-leaf,  from  one  of  Hollar's 
plates,  is  in  ordinary  costume.  An  engraving  of  a  semi-choir  of  canons  in 
their  furred  tippets  from  the  MS.  Domitian  xvii.,  will  be  found  in  a  sub- 
sequent chapter  on  the  Secular  Clergy. 

There  are  numerous  existing  monumental  brasses  in  which  the  effigies 
of  canons  are  represented  in  choir  costume,  viz.,  surplice  and  amice,  and 
often  with  a  cope  over  all ;  they  are  all  bareheaded  and  shaven.  We  may 
mention  specially  that  of  William  Tannere,  first  master  of  Cobham  College 
(died  1 41 8  A.D.),  in  Cobham  Church,  Kent,  in  which  the  almuce,  with  its 

*  Probably  this  means  that  he  had  "  clocks  " — little  bell-shaped  ornaments— sewn  to 
the  lower  margin  of  his  tippet  or  hood. 


The  Monks  of  the  Middle  Ages. 

fringe  of  bell-shaped  ornaments,  over  the  surplice,  is  very  distinctly  shown  j 
it  is  fastened  at  the  throat  with  a  jewel.    The  effigy  of  Sir  John  Stodeley, 

canon,  in  Over  Winchendon  Church,  Bucks 
(died  1505),  is  in  ordinary  costume,  an  under 
garment  reaching  to  the  heels,  over  that  a 
shorter  black  cassock,  girded  with  a  leather 
girdle,  and  over  all  a  long  cloak  and  hood. 

The  Canons  Regular  of  St.  Augustine 
were  perhaps  the  least  ascetic  of  the  monastic 
orders.  Enyol  de  Provins,  a  minstrel  (and  after- 
wards a  monk)  of  the  thirteenth  century,  says 
of  them :  "  Among  them  one  is  well  shod,  well 
clothed,  and  well  fed.  They  go  out  when  they 
like,  mix  with  the  world,  and  talk  at  table." 
They  were  little  known  till  the  tenth  or  eleventh 
century,  and  the  general  opinion  is,  that  they 
were  first  introduced  into  England,  at  Col- 
chester, in  the  reign  of  Henry  I.,  where  the  ruins 
of  their  church,  of  Norman  style,  built  of 
Roman  bricks,  still  remain.  Their  habit  was 
like  that  of  the  secular  canons — a  long  black 
cassock,  cloak  ana  hood,  and  leather  girdle,  and  four-square  cap ;  they  are 
distinguished  from  the  secular  canons  by  not  wearing  the  beard.  According 
to  Tanner,  they  had  one  hundred  and  seventy-four  houses  in  England — 
one  hundred  and  fifty-eight  for  monks,  and  sixteen  for  nuns ;  but  the 
editors  of  the  last  edition  of  the  "  Monasticon  "  have  recovered  the  names 
of  additional  small  houses,  which  make  up  a  total  of  two  hundred  and 
sixteen  houses  of  the  order. 

The  Augustinian  order  branches  out  into  a  number  of  denominations ; 
indeed,  it  is  considered  as  the  parent  rule  of  all  the  monastic  orders  and 
religious  communities  which  are  not  included  under  the  Benedictine 
order;  and  retrospectively  it  is  made  to  include  all  the  distinguished 
recluses  and  clerics  before  the  institution  of  St.  Benedict,  from  the  fourth 
to  the  sixth  century. 

Canon  of  St.  Augustine. 

The  Augustinian  Orders.  21 

The  most  important  branch  of  the  Regular  Canons  is  the  Premon- 
stratensian,  founded  by  St  Norbert,  a  German  nobleman,  who  died  in 
1 1 34  a.d.;  his  first  house,  in  a  barren  spot  in  the  valley  of  Coucy,  in 
Picardy,  called  Pre-montre,  gave  its  name  to  the  order.  The  rule  was 
that  of  Augustine,  with  a  severe  discipline  superadded ;  the  habit  was  a 
coarse  black  cassock,  with  a  white  woollen  cloak  and  a  white  four-square 
cap.  Their  abbots  were  not  to  use  any  episcopal  insignia.  The  Pre- 
monstratensian  nuns  were  not  to  sing  in  choir  or  church,  and  to  pray  in 
silence.  They  had  only  thirty-six  houses  in  England,  of  which  Welbeck 
was  the  chief;  but  the  order  was  very  popular  on  the  Continent,  and  at 
length  numbered  one  thousand  abbeys  and  five  hundred  nunneries. 

Under  this  rule  are  also  included  the  Gilbertines,  who  were  founded 
by  a  Lincolnshire  priest,  Gilbert  of  Sempringham,  in  the  year  1139  a.d. 
There  were  twenty-six  houses  of  the  order,  most  of  them  in  Lincolnshire 
and  Yorkshire;  they  were  all  priories  dependent  upon  the  house  of 
Sempringham,  whose  head,  as  prior-general,  appointed  the  priors  of  the 
other  houses,  and  ruled  absolutely  the  whole  order.  All  the  houses  of 
this  order  were  double  houses,  that  is,  monks  and  nuns  lived  in  the  same 
enclosure,  though  with  a  rigid  separation  between  their  two  divisions. 
The  monks  followed  the  Augustinian  rule;  the  nuns  followed  the  rule 
of  the  Cistercian  nuns.  The  habit  was  a  black  cassock,  a  white  cloak,  and 
hood  lined  with  lambskin.  The  "  Monasticon  "  gives  very  effective  repre- 
sentations (after  Hollar)  of  the  Gilbertine  monk  and  nun. 

The  Nuns  of  Fontevraud  was  another  female  order  of  Augustinians, 
of  which  little  is  known.  It  was  founded  at  Fontevraud  in  France,  and 
three  houses  of  the  order  were  established  in  England  in  the  time  of 
Henry  II. ;  they  had  monks  and  nuns  within  the  same  enclosure,  and  all 
subject  to  the  rule  of  an  abbess. 

The  Bonhommes  were  another  small  order  of  the  Augustinian  rule,  of 
little  repute  in  England ;  they  had  only  two  houses  here,  which,  however, 
were  reckoned  among  the  greater  abbeys,  viz.,  Esserug  in  Bucks,  and 
Edindon  in  Wilts. 

The  female  Order  of  our  Saviour,  or,  as  they  are  usually  called,  the 
BRiGirriNES,  were  founded  by  St  Bridget  of  Sweden,  in  1363  aj>.     They 

22  The  Monks  oj  the  Middle  Ages, 

were  introduced  into  England  by  Henry  V.,  who  built  for  them  the  once 
glorious  nunnery  of  Sion  House.  At  the  dissolution,  the  nuns  fled  to 
Lisbon,  where  their  successors  still  exist.  Some  of  the  relics  and  vest- 
ments which  they  carried  from  Sion  House  have  been  carefully  preserved 
ever  since,  and  are  now  in  the  possession  of  the  Earl  of  Shrewsbury.* 
Their  habit  was  like  that  of  the  Benedictine  nuns — a  black  tunic,  white 
wimple  and  veil,  but  is  distinguished  by  a  black  band  on  the  veil  across 
the  forehead. 

Other  small  offshoots  of  the  great  Augustinian  tree  were  those  which 
observed  the  rule  of  St.  Austin  according  to  the  regulations  of  St.  Nicholas 
of  Arroasia,  which  had  four  houses  here ;  and  those  which  observed  the 
order  of  St.  Victor,  which  had  three  houses. 

We  may  refer  the  reader  to  two  MS.  illuminations  of  groups  of  religious 
for  further  illustration  of  their  costumes.  One  is  in  the  beautiful  fourteenth 
century  MS.  of  Froissart  in  the  British  Museum  (Harl.  4,380,  at  f.  18  v). 
It  represents  a  dying  pope  surrounded  by  a  group  of  representative 
religious,  cardinals,  &c.  Among  them  are  one  in  a  brown  beard,  and 
with  no  appearance  of  tonsure  (?  a  hermit) ;  another  in  a  white  scapular 
and  hood  (?  a  Carthusian) ;  another  in  a  black  cloak  and  hood  over  a 
white  frock  (?  a  Cistercian)  3  another  in  a  brown  robe  and  hood,  tonsured. 
Again,  in  the  MS.  Tiberius  B  iii.  article  3,  f.  6,  the  text  speaks  of 
"  Convens  of  monkys,  chanons  and  chartreus,  celestynes,  freres  and 
prestes,  palmers,  pylgreymys,  hermytes,  and  reclus,"  and  the  illuminator 
has  illustrated  it  with  a  row  of  religious — first  a  Benedictine  abbot ;  then  a 
canon  with  red  cassock  and  almuce  over  surplice;  then  a  monk  with 
white  frock  and  white  scapular  banded  at  the  sides,  as  in  Hollar's  cut 
given  above,  is  clearly  the  Carthusian ;  then  comes  a  man  in  brown,  with 
a  knotted  girdle,  holding  a  cross  staff  and  a  book,  who  is  perhaps  a  friar ; 
then  one  in  white  surplice  over  red  cassock,  who  is  the  priest;  then  a 
hermit,  in  brown  cloak  over  dark  grey  gown ;  and  in  the  background  are 
partly  seen  two  pilgrims  and  a  monk.  Other  illustrations  of  monks  are 
frequent  in  the  illuminated  MSS. 

•  Mrs.  Jameson,  "Legends  of  the  Monastic  Orders,"  p.  137. 

The  Augustinian  Orders. 


The  hospitals  of  the  Middle  Ages  deserve  a  more  extended  notice  than 
we  can  afford  them  here.  Some  were  founded  at  places  of  pilgrimage 
and  along  the  high  roads,  for  the  entertainment  of  poor  pilgrims  and 
travellers.  Thus  at  St.  Edmund's  Bury  there  was  St.  John's  Hospital,  or 
God's  House,  without  the  south  gate ;  and  St.  Nicholas  Hospital,  without 
the  east  gate  ;  and  St.  Peter's  Hospital,  without  the  Risley  gate ;  and  St. 
Saviour's  Hospital,  without  the  north  gate — all  founded  and  endowed  by 
abbots  of  St.  Edmund.  At  Reading  there  was  the  Hospital  of  St.  Mary 
Magdalene,  for  twelve  leprous  persons  and  chaplains ;  and  the  Hospital 
of  St.  Lawrence,  for  twenty-six  poor  people  and  for  the  entertainment  of 
strangers  and  pilgrims — both  founded  by  abbots  of  Reading ;  one  at  the 
gate  of  Fountains  Abbey,  for  poor  persons  and  travellers;  one  at  Glaston- 
bury, under  the  care  of  the  almoner,  for 
poor  and  infirm  persons;  &c,  &c.  In- 
deed, they  were  scattered  so  profusely 
up  and  down  the  country  that  the  last 
edition  of  the  "  Monasticon  "  enume- 
rates no  less  than  three  hundred  and 
seventy  of  them.  Those  for  the  poor 
had  usually  a  little  chamber  for  each 
person,  a  common  hall  in  which  they 
took  their  meals,  a  chapel  in  which 
they  attended  daily  service.  They 
usually  were  under  the  care  and  go- 
vernment of  one  or  more  clergymen ;  sometimes  in  large  hospitals  of 
a  prior  and  bretheren,  who  were  Augustinian  canons.  The  canons  of  some 
of  these  hospitals  had  special  statutes  in  addition  to  the  general  rules, 
and  were  distinguished  by  some  peculiarity  of  habit;  for  example,  the 
canons  of  the  Hospital  of  St  John  Baptist  at  Coventry  wore  a  cross  on 
the  breast  of  their  black  cassock,  and  a  similar  one  on  the  shoulder  of 
their  cloak.  The  poor  people  were  also  under  a  simple  rule,  and  were 
regarded  as  part  01  the  community.  The  accompanying  woodcut  enables 
us  to  place  a  group  of  them  before  the  eye  of  the  reader.  It  is  from 
one  of  the  initial  letters  of  the  deed  (Halt  t,4q8)  by  which  Henry  VII. 

Bedesmen.     Temp.  Hen.  VII. 

24  The  Monks  of  the  Middle  Ages, 

founded  a  fraternity  of  thirteen  poor  men  (thirteen  was  a  favourite  number 
for  such  hospitals)  in  Westminster  Abbey,  who  were  to  be  under  the 
governance  of  the  monks,  and  to  repay  the  king's  bounty  by  their  prayers. 
The  group  represents  the  abbot  and  jome  of  the  monks,  and  behind  them 
some  of  the  bedesmen,  each  of  whom  has  the  royal  badge — the  rose  and 
crown — on  the  shoulder  of  his  habit,  and  holds  in  his  hand  his  rosary,  the 
symbol  of  his  prayers.  Happily  some  of  these  ancient  foundations  have 
continued  to  the  present  day,  and  the  brethren  may  be  seen  yet  in  coats 
of  antique  fashion,  with  a  cross  or  other  badge  on  the  sleeve.  Examples 
of  the  architecture  of  the  buildings  may  be  seen  in  the  Bede  Houses  in 
Higham  Ferrers  Churchyard,  built  by  Archbishop  Chechele  in  1422 ;  St. 
Thomas's  Hospital,  Northampton ;  Wyston's  Hospital,  Leicester ;  Ford's 
Hospital,  Coventry;  the  Alms  Houses  at  Sherborne;  the  Leicester 
Hospital  at  Warwick,  &c.  Mr.  Turner,  in  the  "  Domestic  Architecture," 
says  that  there  exists  a  complete  chronological  series  from  the  twelfth 
century  downwards. 

Hospitals  were  also  established  for  the  treatment  of  the  sick,  of  which 
St.  Bartholomew's  Hospital  is  perhaps  our  most  illustrious  instance. 
It  was  founded  to  be  an  infirmary  for  the  sick  and  infirm  poor,  a  lying-in 
hospital  for  women — there  were  sisters  on  the  hospital  staff,  and  if  the 
women  happened  to  die  in  hospital  their  children  were  taken  care  of  till 
seven  years  of  age.  The  staff  usually  consisted  of  a  community  living 
under  monastic  vows  and  rule,  viz.,  a  prior  and  a  number  of  brethren 
who  were  educated  and  trained  to  the  treatment  of  sickness  and  disease, 
and  one  or  more  of  whom  were  also  priests ;  a  college,  in  short,  of  clerical 
physicians  and  surgeons  and  hospital  dressers,  who  devoted  themselves 
to  the  service  of  the  sick  poor  as  an  act  of  religion,  and  had  always  in 
mind  our  Lord's  words,  "  Inasmuch  as  ye  do  it  to  one  of  the  least  of  these 
my  brethren,  ye  do  it  unto  me."  In  the  still  existing  church  of  St 
Bartholomew's  Hospital,  in  Smithfield,  is  a  monument  of  the  founder 
"  Rahere,  first  canon  and  prior,"  which  is,  however,  of  much  later  date, 
probably  of  about  1410  a.d.  ;  his  recumbent  effigy,  and  the  kneeling  figures 
of  two  of  his  canons  beside  him,  afford  good  authorities  for  costume.  They 
have  been  engraved  in  the  "Vetusta  Monumenta,"  vol.  ii.  PI.  xxxvi. 

T}u  Augustinian  Orders,  25 

The  building  usually  consisted  of  a  great  hall  in  which  the  sick  lay,  a 
chapel  for  their  worship,  apartments  for  the  hospital  staff,  and  other  apart- 
ments for  guests.  We  are  not  aware  of  any  examples  in  England  so  perfect 
as  some  which  exist  in  other  countries,  and  we  shall  therefore  borrow  some 
foreign  examples  in  illustration  of  the  subject.  The  commonest  form  of 
these  hospitals  seems  to  have  been  a  great  hall  divided  by  pillars  into  a 
centre  and  aisles,  in  which  rows  of  beds  were  arranged ;  with  a  chapel  in  a 
separate  building  at  one  end  of  the  hall,  and  other  buildings  irregularly 
disposed  in  a  courtyard ;  as  at  the  Hotel  Dieu  of  Chartres,  a  building 
of  1 1 53  a.d.,*  and  the  Salle  des  Morts  at  Ourscamp.f  AtTonerre  we  find 
a  modification  of  the  above  plan.  The  hospital  is  still  a  vast  hall,  but 
is  divided  by  timber  partitions  along  the  side  walls  into  little  separate 
cells.  Above  these  cells,  against  the  side  walls,  and  projecting  partly 
over  the  cells,  are  two  galleries,  along  which  the  attendants  might  walk 
and  look  down  into  the  cells.  At  the  east  end  of  this  hall  two  bays 
were  screened  off  for  the  chapel,  so  that  they  who  were  able  might 
go  up  into  the  chapel,  and  they  who  could  not  rise  from  their  beds 
could  still  take  part  in  the  service.}  At  Tartoine,  near  Laon  la  Fere, 
is  a  hospital  on  a  different  plan :  a  hall,  with  cells  on  one  side  of  it,  is 
placed  on  one  side  of  a  square  courtyard,  and  the  chapel  and  lodgings  for 
the  brethren  on  another  side  of  the  court  § 

•  Viollet  le  Due's  "  Dictionary  of  Architecture,"  vol.  vi.  p.  104. 
f  Ibid.  vi.  107.  X  "**■  *»•  u*»  $  Ibid.  vi.  na. 



jE  have  already  sketched  the  history  of  the  rise  of  monachism  iu 
the  fourth  century  out  of  the  groups  of  Egyptian  eremites,  and 
the  rapid  spread  of  the  institution,  under  the  rule  of  Basil,  over 
Christendom  ;  the  adoption  in  the  west  of  the  new  rule  of  Benedict  in  the 
sixth  century;  the  rise  of  the  reformed  orders  of  Benedictines  in  the 
tenth  and  eleventh  centuries ;  and  the  institution  in  the  eleventh  and 
twelfth  centuries  of  a  new  group  of  orders  under  the  milder  discipline  of 
the  Augustinian  rule.  We  come  now  to  a  class  of  monastics  who  are 
included  under  the  Augustinian  rule,  since  that  rule  formed  the  basis 
of  their  discipline,  but  whose  striking  features  of  difference  from  all  other 
religious  orders  entitle  them  to  be  reckoned  as  a  distinct  class,  under  the 
designation  of  the  Military  Orders.  When  the  history  of  the  mendicant 
orders  which  arose  in  the  thirteenth  century  has  been  read,  it  will  be  seen 
that  these  military  orders  had  anticipated  the  active  religious  spirit  which 
formed  the  characteristic  of  the  friars,  as  opposed  to  the  contemplative 
religious  spirit  of  the  monks.  But  that  which  peculiarly  characterises  the 
military  orders,  is  their  adoption  of  the  chivalrous  crusading  spirit  of  the 
age  in  which  they  arose :  they  were  half  friars,  half  crusaders. 

The  order  of  the  Knights  of  the  Temple  was  founded  at  Jerusalem 
in  1118  a.d.,  during  the  interval  between  the  first  and  second  crusades, 
and  in  the  reign  of  Baldwin  I.  Hugh  de  Payens,  and  eight  other  brave 
knights,  in  the  presence  of  the  king  and  his  barons,  and  in  the  hands 
of  the  Patriarch,  bound  themselves  into  a  fraternity  which  embraced  the 
fundamental  monastic  vows  of  obedience,  poverty,  and  chastity;  and,  in 

TTie  Military  Orders  27 

addition,  as  the  special  object  of  the  fraternity,  they  undertook  the  task  of 
escorting  the  companies  of  pilgrims  from  the  coast  up  to  Jerusalem,  and 
thence  on  the  usual  tour  to  the  Holy  Places.  For  the  open  country  was 
perpetually  exposed  to  the  incursions  of  irregular  bands  of  Saracen  and 
Turkish  horsemen,  and  death  or  slavery  was  the  fate  which  awaited  any 
caravan  of  helpless  pilgrims  whom  the  infidel  descried  as  they  swept 
over  the  plains,  or  whom  they  could  waylay  in  the  mountain  passes. 
The  new  knights  undertook  besides  to  wage  a  continual  war  in  defence 
of  the  Cross  against  the  infidel.  The  canons  of  the  Temple  at  Jerusalem 
gave  the  new  fraternity  a  piece  of  ground  adjoining  the  Temple  for  the 
site  of  their  home,  and  hence  they  took  their  name  of  Knights  of  the 
Temple ;  and  they  gradually  acquired  dependent  houses,  which  were  in 
fact  strong  castles,  whose  ruins  may  still  be  seen,  in  many  a  strong  place  in 
Palestine.  Ten  years  after,  when  Baldwin  IL  sent  envoys  to  Europe  to 
implore  the  aid  of  the  Christian  powers  in  support  of  his  kingdom  against 
the  Saracens,  Hugh  de  Payens  was  sent  as  one  of  the  envoys.  His  order 
received  the  approval  of  the  Council  of  Troyes,  and  of  Pope  Eugene  III., 
and  the  patronage  of  St.  Bernard,  who  became  the  great  preacher  of 
the  second  crusade ;  and  when  Hugh  de  Payens  returned  to  Palestine,  he 
was  at  the  head  of  three  hundred  knights  of  the  noblest  houses  of  Europe, 
who  had  become  members  of  the  order.  Endowments,  too,  for  their 
support  flowed  in  abundantly ;  and  gradually  the  order  established  depend- 
ent houses  on  its  estates  in  nearly  every  country  of  Europe.  The  order 
was  introduced  into  England  in  the  reign  of  King  Stephen ;  at  first  its 
chief  house,  "  the  Temple,"  *  was  on  the  south  side  of  Holborn,  London, 
near  Southampton  Buildings ;  afterwards  it  was  removed  to  Fleet  Street, 
where  the  establishment  still  remains,  long  since  converted  to  other  uses ; 
but  the  original  church,  with  its  round  nave,  after  the  form  of  the  Church 
of  the  Holy  Sepulchre  at  Jerusalem,!  still  continues  a  monument  of  the 

*  All  its  houses  were  called  Temples,  as  all  the  Carthusian  houses  were  called  Char- 
tereux  (corrupted  in  England  into  Charterhouse). 

t  Of  the  four  round  churches  in  England,  popularly  supposed  to  have  been  built  by 
the  Templars,  the  Temple  Church  in  London  was  built  by  them ;  that  of  Maplestead,  in 
Essex,  by  the  Hospitallers ;  that  of  Northampton  by  Simon  de  St  Urn,  first  Norman 


The  Monks  of  the  Middle  Ages* 

wealth  and  grandeur  of  the  ancient  knights.  They  had  only  five  other 
houses  in  England,  which  were  called  Preceptories,  and  were  dependent 
upon  the  Temple  in  London. 

The  knights  wore  the  usual  armour  of  the  period ;   but  while  other 
knights  wore  the  flowing  surcoat  of  the  twelfth  or  thirteenth  centuries, 

or  the  tight-fitting  jupon  of  the 
fourteenth,  or  the  tabard  of  the 
fifteenth,  of  any  colour  which 
pleased  their  taste,  and  often 
embroidered  with  their  armorial 
bearings,  the  Knights  of  the 
Temple  were  distinguished  by 
wearing  this  portion  of  their 
equipment  of  white,  with  a  red 
cross  over  the  breast;  and  over 
all  a  long  flowing  white  mantle, 
with  a  red  cross  on  the  shouldei ; 
they  also  wore  the  monastic  ton- 
sure. In  the  early  fourteenth  cen- 
tury MS.  in  the  British  Museum, 
Royal  1,696,  at  f.  335,  is  a 
representation  of  Eracles,  Prior 
at  Jerusalem,  the  Prior  of  the 
Hospital,  and  the  Master  of  the 
Temple,  sent  to  France  to  ask 
for  succour.  The  illumination  shows  us  the  King  of  France  sitting  on 
his  throne,  and  before  him  is  standing  a  religious  in  mitre  and  crozier, 
who  is  no  doubt  Eracles,  and  another  in  a  peculiarly  shaped  black 
robe,  with  a  cross  patee  on  the  left  shoulder,  who  is  either  Hugh 
de  Payens  the  Templar,  or  Raymond  de  Puy  the  Hospitaller,  but 
which    it   is    difficult    to    determine.      Again,    in    the    fine    fourteenth 

A  Knight  Templar. 

Earl  of  Northampton,  twice  a  pilgrim  to  the  Holy  Land ;  and  that  of  Cambridge  by  some 
unknown  individual. 

The  Military  Orders.  29 

century  MS.,  Nero  E.  2,  at  f.  345  v,  is  a  representation  of  the 
trial  of  the  Templars :  there  are  three  of  them  standing  before  the 
Pope  and  the  King  of  France,  dressed  in  a  grey  tunic,  and  over 
that  a  black  mantle  with  a  red  cross  on  the  left  breast,  and  a  pointed 
hood  over  the  shoulders.  Folio  350  represents  the  Master  of  the  Temple 
being  burnt  to  death  in  presence  of  the  king  and  nobles.  Again,  in 
the  fine  MS.  Royal  20,  c.  viii.,  of  the  time  of  our  Richard  II.,  at  f.  42 
and  f.  48,  are  representations  of  the  same  scenes.  Folio  42  is  a  group 
of  Templars  habited  in  long  black  coat,  fitting  close  up  to  the  neck, 
like  the  ordinary  civil  robes  of  the  time,  with  a  pointed  hood  (like  that 
with  which  we  are  familiar  in  the  portraits  of  Dante),  with  a  cross  patee  on 
the  right  shoulder;  the  hair  is  tonsured.  At  f.  45  is  the  burning  of  a 
group  of  Templars  (not  tonsured),  and  at  f.  48  the  burning  of  the  Master 
of  the  Temple  and  another  (tonsured).  Their  banner  was  of  a  black  and 
white  striped  cloth,  called  beauscani,  which  word  they  adopted  as  a  war- 
cry.  The  rule  allowed  three  horses  and  a  servant  to  each  knight. 
Married  knights  were  admitted,  but  there  were  no  sisters  of  the  order. 
The  order  was  suppressed  with  circumstances  of  gross  injustice  and  cruelty 
in  the  fourteenth  century,  and  the  bulk  of  their  estates  was  given  to  the 
Hospitallers.  The  knight  here  given,  from  Hollar's  plate,  is  a  prior  of 
the  order,  in  armour  of  the  thirteenth  century. 

The  Knights  of  St.  John  of  Jerusalem,  or  the  Knights  Hospitallers, 
originally  were  not  a  military  order;  they  were  founded  about  1092  by  the 
merchants  of  Amalfi,  in  Italy,  for  the  purpose  of  affording  hospitality  to 
pilgrims  in  the  Holy  Land.  Their  chief  house,  which  was  called  the 
Hospital,  was  situated  at  Jerusalem,  over  against  the  Church  of  the  Holy 
Sepulchre;  and  they  had  independent  hospitals  in  other  places  in  the 
Holy  Land,  which  were  frequented  by  the  pilgrims.  Their  kindness  to 
the  sick  and  wounded  soldiers  of  the  first  crusade  made  them  popular, 
and  several  of  the  crusading  princes  endowed  them  with  estates ;  while 
many  of  the  crusaders,  instead  of  returning  home,  laid  down  their  arms, 
and  joined  the  brotherhood  of  the  Hospital  During  this  period  of  their 
history  their  habit  was  a  plain  black  robe,  with  a  linen  cross  upon  the  left 

SO  The  Monks  of  the  Middle  Ages, 

At  length  their  endowments  having  become  greater  than  the  needs  of 
their  hospitals  required,  and  incited  by  the  example  of  the  Templars, 
a  little  before  established,  Raymond  de  Puy,  the  then  master  of  the 
hospital,  offered  to  King  Baldwin  II.  to  reconstruct  the  order  on  the 
model  of  the  Templars.  From  this  time  the  two  military  orders  formed  a 
powerful  standing  army  for  the  defence  of  the  kingdom  of  Jerusalem. 

When  Palestine  was  finally  lost  to  the  Christians,  the  Knights  of  St. 
John  passed  into  the  Isle  of  Cyprus,  afterwards  to  the  Isle  of  Rhodes, 
and,  finally,  to  the  Isle  of  Malta,*  maintaining  a  constant  warfare  against 
the  infidel,  and  doing  good  service  in  checking  the  westward  progress  of 
the  Mohammedan  arms.  In  the  latter  part  of  their  history,  and  down  to 
a  recent  period,  they  conferred  great  benefits  by  checking  the  ravages  of 
the  corsairs  of  North  Africa  on  the  commerce  of  the  Mediterranean  and 
the  coast  towns  of  Southern  Europe.  They  patrolled  the  sea  in  war- 
galleys,  rowed  by  galley-slaves,  each  of  which  carried  a  force  of  armed 
soldiers — inferior  brethren  of  the  order,  officered  by  its  knights.  They  are 
not  even  now  extinct. 

The  order  was  first  introduced  into  England  in  the  reign  of  Henry  I., 
at  Clerkenwell ;  which  continued  the  principal  house  of  the  order  in 
England,  and  was  styled  the  Hospital.  The  Hospitallers  had  also 
dependent  houses,  called  Commanderies,  on  many  of  their  English  estates, 
to  the  number  of  fifty-three  in  all.  The  houses  of  the  military  knights  in 
England  were  only  cells,  erected  on  the  estates  with  which  they  had 
been  endowed,  in  order  to  cultivate  those  estates  for  the  support  of  the 
order,  and  to  form  depots  for  recruits ;  i.e.  for  novices,  where  they  might 
be  trained,  not  in  learning  like  Benedictines,  or  agriculture  like  Cistercians, 
or  preaching  like  Dominicans,  but  in  piety  and  in  military  exercises.  A 
plan  and  elevation  of  the  Commandery  of  Chabburn,  Northumberland, 
are  engraved  in  Turner's  "  Domestic  Architecture,"  vol.  iii.  p.  197. 
The    superior   of    the    order   in   England    sat  in   Parliament,   and   was 

*  The  order  was  divided  into  nations — the  English  knights,  the  French  knights,  &c— 
each  nation  having  a  separate  house,  situated  at  different  points  of  the  island,  for  its 
defence.  These  houses,  large  and  fine  buildings,  still  remain,  and  many  unedited  records 
of  the  order  are  said  to  be  still  preserved  on  the  island. 

The  Military  Orders. 


accounted  the  first  lay  baron.  When  on  military  duty  the  knights  wore 
the  ordinary  armour  of  the  period,  with  a  red  surcoat  marked  with  a 
white  cross  on  the  breast,  and  a  red  mantle  with  a  white  cross  on  the 
shoulder.  Some  of  their  churches  in  England  possibly  had  circular 
naves,  like  the  church  of  the  Temple  in  Jerusalem;  out  of  the  four 
"round  churches,"  which  remain,  one  belonged  to  the  Knights  of  the 
Hospital.  The  chapel  at  Chabburn  is  a  rectangular  building.  There 
were  many  sisters  of  the  order, 
but  only  one  house  of  them  in 

One  of  two  earlier  represen- 
tations of  knights  of  the  order 
may  be  noted  here.  In  a  MS. 
in  the  Library  at  Ghent,  of  the 
date  of  our  Edward  IV.,  is  a 
picture  of  John  Lonstrother,  prior 
of  the  order;  he  wears  a  long 
sleeveless  gown  over  armour.  It 
is  engraved  in  the  "  Archaelogia," 
xiii.  14.  The  MS.  Add.  18,143 
in  the  British  Museum  is  said 
in  a  note  at  the  beginning  of 
the  volume  to  have  been  the 
missal  of  Phillippe  de  Villiers  de 
l'lsle  Adam,  the  famous  Grand 
Master  of  the  Order  of  St  John 
of  Jerusalem  from  1521  to  1534. 

In  the  frontispiece  is  a  portrait  of  the  Grand  Master  in  a  black 
robe  lined  with  fur,  and  a  cross  patee  on  the  breast.  On  the  opposite 
page  is  another  portrait  of  him  in  a  robe  of  different  fashion,  with 
a  cross  rather  differently  shaped.  The  monument  of  the  last  English 
Prior,  Sir  Thomas  Tresham,  in  his  robes  as  prior  of  the  order,  still 
remains  in  Rushton  Church,  Northants.  A  fine  portrait  of  a  Knight 
of  Malta  is  in  the   National    Gallery.     The  Hospitaller  given  on  the 

A  Knight  Hospitaller. 

32  The  Monks  of  the  Middle  Ages. 

preceding  page,  from  Hollar's  plate,  is  a  (not  very  good)  representation  of 
one  in  the  armour  of  the  early  part  of  the  fourteenth  century,  with  the 
usual  knight's  chapeau,  instead  of  the  mail  hood  or  the  basinet,  on  his 

It  will  be  gathered  from  the  authorities  of  the  costume  of  the  Knights  of 
the  Temple  and  of  the  Hospital  here  noted,  that  when  we  picture  to  our- 
selves the  knights  on  duty  in  the  Holy  Land  or  elsewhere,  it  should  be  in  the 
armour  of  their  period  with  the  uniform  surcoat  of  their  order ;  but  when 
we  desire  to  realise  their  appearance  as  they  were  to  be  ordinarily  seen,  in 
chapel  or  refectory,  or  about  their  estates,  or  forming  part  of  any  ordinary 
scene  of  English  life,  it  must  be  in  the  long  cassock-like  gown,  with  the 
cross  on  the  shoulder,  and  the  tonsured  head,  described  in  the  above 
authorities,  which  would  make  their  appearance  resemble  that  of  other 
religious  persons. 

Other  military  orders,  which  never  extended  to  England,  were  the 
order  of  Teutonic  Knights,  a  fraternity  similar  to  that  of  the  Tem- 
plars, but  consisting  entirely  of  Germans ;  and  the  order  of  Our  Lady 
of  Mercy,  a  Spanish  knightly  order  in  imitation  of  that  of  the  Trini- 

One  other  order  of  religious — the  Trinitarians — we  have  reserved  for 
this  place,  because  while  by  their  rule  they  are  classed  among  the  Augus- 
tinian  orders,  the  object  of  their  foundation  gives  them  an  affinity  with 
the  military  orders,  and  their  mode  of  pursuing  that  object  makes  their 
organisation  and  life  resemble  that  of  friars.  The  moral  interest  of  their 
work,  and  its  picturesque  scenes  and  associations,  lead  us  to  give  a  little 
larger  space  to  them  than  we  have  been  able  to  do  to  most  of  the  other 
orders.  It  is  difficult  for  us  to  realise  that  the  Mohammedan  power 
seemed  at  one  time  not  unlikely  to  subjugate  all  Europe ;  and  that  after 
their  career  of  conquest  had  been  arrested,  the  Mohammedan  states  of 
North  Africa  continued  for  centuries  to  be  a  scourge  to  the  commerce  of 
Europe,  and  a  terror  to  the  inhabitants  of  the  coasts  of  the  Mediter- 
ranean. They  scoured  the  Great  Sea  with  their  galleys,  and  captured 
ships;  they  made  descents  on  the  coasts,  and  plundered  towns  and 
villages  ;  and  carried  off  the  captives  into  slavery,  and  retreated  in  safety 

The  Military  Orders.  33 

with  their  booty,  to  their  African  harbours.  It  is  only  within  quite  recent 
tunes  that  the  last  of  these  strongholds  was  destroyed  by  an  English  fleet, 
and  that  the  Greek  and  Italian  feluccas  have  ceased  to  fear  the  Algerine 
pirates.  We  have  already  briefly  stated  how  the  Hospitallers,  after  their  original 
sendee  was  ended  by  the  expulsion  of  the  Christians  from  the  Holy  Land, 
settled  first  at  Cyprus,  then  at  Rhodes,  and  did  good  service  as  a  bulwark 
against  the  Mohammedan  progress ;  and  lastly,  as  Knights  of  Malta,  acted 
as  the  police  of  the  Mediterranean,  and  did  their  best  to  oppose  the 
piracies  of  the  Corsairs.  But  in  spite  of  the  vigilance  and  prowess  of  the 
knights,  many  a  merchant  ship  was  captured,  many  a  fishing  village  was 
sacked,  and  many  captives,  men,  women,  and  children  of  all  ranks  of 
society,  were  carried  off  into  slavery ;  and  their  slavery  was  a  cruel  one, 
exaggerated  by  the  scorn  and  hatred  bred  of  antagonism  in  race  and 
religion,  and  made  ruthless  by  the  recollection  of  ages  of  mutual  injuries. 
The  relations  and  friends  of  the  unhappy  captives,  where  they  were 
people  of  wealth  and  influence,  used  every  exertion  to  rescue  those  who 
were  dear  to  them,  and  their  captors  were  ordinarily  willing  to  set  them 
to  ransom;  but  hopeless  indeed  was  the  lot  of  those — and  they,  of 
course,  were  the  great  majority — who  had  no  friends  rich  enough  to  help 

The  miserable  fate  of  these  helpless  ones  moved  the  compassion  of 
some  Christ-like  souls.  John  de  Matha,  born,  in  1154,  of  noble  parents 
in  Provence,  with  Felix  de  Valois,  retired  to  a  desert  place,  where,  at  the 
foot  of  a  little  hilL  a  fountain  of  cold  water  issued  forth ;  a  white  hart 
was  accustomed  to  resort  to  this  fountain,  and  hence  it  had  received  the 
name  of  Cervus  Frigidus,  represented  in  French  by  (or  representing 
the  French?)  Cerfroy.  There,  about  a.d.  1197,  these  two  good  men — the 
Clarkson  and  Wilberforce  of  their  time — arranged  the  institution  of  a  new 
Order  for  the  Redemption  of  Captives.  The  new  order  received  the  approval 
of  the  Pope  Innocent  III.,  and  took  its  place  among  the  recognised  orders 
of  the  church.  This  Papal  approval  of  their  institution  constiu  ted  an 
authorisation  from  the  head  of  the  church  to  seek  alms  from  all  Christen- 
dom in  furtherance  of  their  object.  Their  rules  directed  that  one-third  of 
their  income  only  should  be  reserved  for  their  own  maintenance,  one-third 


34  The  Monks  of  the  Middle  Ages. 

should  be  given  to  the  poor,  and  one-third  for  the  special  object  of 
redeeming  captives.  The  two  philanthropists  preached  throughout  France, 
collecting  alms,  and  recruiting  men  who  were  willing  to  join  them  in  their 
good  work.  In  the  first  year  they  were  able  to  send  two  brethren  to  Africa, 
to  negotiate  the  redemption  of  a  hundred  and  eighty-six  Christian 
captives;  next  year,  John  himself  went,  and  brought  back  a  thankful 
company  of  a  hundred  and  ten ;  and  on  a  third  voyage,  a  hundred  and 
twenty  more;  and  the  order  continued  to  flourish,*  and  established  a 
house  of  the  order  in  Africa,  as  its  agent  with  the  infidel.  They  were 
introduced  into  England  by  Sir  William  Lucy  of  Charlecote,  on  his  return 
from  the  Crusade ;  who  built  and  endowed  for  them  Thellesford  Priory  in 
Warwickshire ;  and  subsequently  they  had  eleven  other  houses  in  England. 
St.  Rhadegunda  was  their  tutelary  saint.  Their  habit  was  white,  with  a 
Greek  cross  of  red  and  blue  on  the  breast — the  three  colours  being  taken 
to  signify  the  three  persons  of  the  Holy  Trinity,  viz.,  the  white,  the  Eternal 
Father ;  the  blue,  which  was  the  transverse  limb  of  the  cross,  the  Son ; 
and  the  red,  the  charity  of  the  Holy  Spirit. 

The  order  were  called  Trinitarians,  from  their  devotion  to  the  Blessed 
Trinity,  all  their  houses  being  so  dedicated,  and  hence  the  significance 
of  their  badge ;  they  were  commonly  called  Mathurins,  after  the  name  of 
their  founder;  and  Brethren  of  the  Order  of  the  Holy  Trinity 
for  the  Redemption  of  Captives,  from  their  object. 

Before  turning  from  the  monks  to  the  friars,  we  must  devote  a  brief 
sentence  to  the  Alien  Priories.  These  were  cells  of  foreign  abbeys, 
founded  upon  estates  which  English  proprietors  had  given  to  the  foreign 
houses.  After  the  expenses  of  the  establishment  had  been  defrayed,  the 
surplus  revenue,  or  a  fixed  sum  in  lieu  of  it,  was  remitted  to  the  parent 
house  abroad.  There  were  over  one  hundred  and  twenty  of  them  when 
Edward  I.,  on  the  breaking  out  of  the  war  with  France,  seized  upon  them, 

*  An  order,  called  our  Lady  of  Mercy,  was  founded  in  Spain  in  1258,  by  Peter 
Nolasco,  for  a  similar  object,  including  in  its  scope  not  only  Christian  captive;  to  the 
infidel,  but  also  all  slaves,  captives,  and  prisoners  for  debt 

The  Military  Orders,  35 

in  1285,  as  belonging  to  the  enemy.  Edward  II.  appears  to  have  pursued 
the  same  course ;  and,  again,  Edward  III.,  in  1337.  Henry  IV.  only 
reserved  to  himself,  in  time  of  war,  what  these  houses  had  been  accustomed 
to  pay  to  the  foreign  abbeys  in  time  of  peace.  But  at  length  they  were 
all  dissolved  by  act  of  Parliament  in  the  second  year  of  Henry  V.,  and 
their  possessions  were  devoted  for  the  most  part  to  religious  and  charitable 



E  have  seen  how  for  three  centuries,  from  the  beginning  of  the 
tenth  to  the  end  of  the  twelfth,  a  series  of  religious  orders 
arose,  each  aiming  at  a  more  successful  reproduction  of  the 
monastic  ideal.  The  thirteenth  century  saw  the  rise  of  a  new  class 
of  religious  orders,  actuated  by  a  different  principle  from  that  of  mon. 
achism.  The  principle  of  monachism,  we  have  said,  was  seclusion  from 
mankind,  and  abstraction  from  worldly  affairs,  for  the  sake  of  religious 
contemplation.  To  this  end  monasteries  were  founded  in  the  wilds, 
far  from  the  abodes  of  men ;  and  he  who  least  often  suffered  his  feet 
or  his  thoughts  to  wander  beyond  the  cloister  was  so  far  the  best 
monk.  The  principle  which  inspired  the  Friars  was  that  of  devotion 
to  the  performance  of  active  religious  duties  among  mankind.  Their 
houses  were  built  in  or  near  the  great  towns ;  and  to  the  majority  of  the 
brethren  the  houses  of  the  order  were  mere  temporary  resting-places,  from 
which  they  issued  to  make  their  journeys  through  town  and  country, 
preaching  in  the  parish  churches,  or  from  the  steps  of  the  market-crosses, 
and  carrying  their  ministrations  to  every  castle  and  every  cottage. 

"  I  speke  of  many  hundred  years  ago, 
For  now  can  no  man  see  non  elves  mo ; 
For  now  the  great  charity  and  prayers 
Of  lymytours  and  other  holy  freres 
That  serchen  every  land  and  every  stream 
As  thick  as  motis  in  the  sunne-beam, 
Blessing  halls,  chambers,  kitchens,  and  bowers, 
Cities  and  burghs,  castles  high  and  towers, 

The  Orders  of  Friars.  37 

Thorps  and  barns,  shippons  and  dairies, 

This  raaketh  that  there  been  no  fairies. 

For  there  as  wont  to  walken  was  an  elf. 

There  walketh  now  the  lymytour  himself 

In  undermeles  and  in  morwenings,* 

And  sayeth  his  matins  and  his  holy  things, 

As  he  goeth  in  his  lymytacioun." — Wife  of  Bath's  Tale. 

They  were,  in  fact,  home  missionaries ;  and  the  zeal  and  earnestness  of 
their  early  efforts,  falling  upon  times  when  such  an  agency  was  greatly 
needed,  produced  very  striking  results.  "  Till  the  days  of  Martin  Luther," 
says  Sir  James  Stephen,  "  the  church  had  never  seen  so  great  and  effectual 
a  reform  as  theirs  .  .  .  Nothing  in  the  histories  of  Wesley  or  of  Whitefield 
can  be  compared  with  the  enthusiasm  which  everywhere  welcomed  them, 
or  with  the  immediate  visible  result  of  their  labours."  In  the  character 
of  St.  Francis,  notwithstanding  its  superstition  and  exaggerated  asceticism, 
there  is  something  specially  attractive :  in  his  intense  sympathy  with  the 
sorrows  and  sufferings  of  the  poor,  his  tender  and  respectful  love  for  them 
as  members  of  Christ,  his  heroic  self-devotion  to  their  service  for  Christ's 
sake,  in  his  vivid  realisation  of  the  truth  that  birds,  beasts,  and  fishes  are 
God's  creatures,  and  our  fellow-creatures.  In  the  work  of  both  Francis 
and  Dominic  there  is  much  which  is  worth  careful  study  at;  the  present 
day.  Now,  too,  there  is  a  mass  of  misery  in  our  large  towns  huge  and 
horrible  enough  to  kindle  the  Christ-like  pity  of  another  Francis;  in 
country  as  well  as  town  there  are  ignorance  and  irreligion  enough  to 
call  forth  the  zeal  of  another  Dominic.  In  our  Sisters  of  Mercy  we  see 
among  women  a  wonderful  rekindling  of  the  old  spirit  of  self-sacrifice,  in  a 
shape  adapted  to  our  time ;  we  need  not  despair  of  seeing  the  same  spirit 
rekindled  among  men,  freed  from  the  old  superstitions  and  avoiding  the 
old  blunders,  and  setting  itself  to  combat  the  gigantic  evils  which  threaten 
to  overwhelm  both  religion  and  social  order. 

Both  these  reformers  took  great  pains  to  fit  their  followers  for  the 
office  of  preachers  and  teachers,  sending  them  in  large  numbers  to 
the  universities,  and  founding  colleges  there  for  the  reception  of  their 
students.     With  an  admirable  largeness   of  view,  they  did  not   confine 

*  Afternoons  and  mornings. 

38  The  Orders  of  Friars, 

their  studies  to  theology,  but  cultivated  the  whole  range  of  Science 
and  Art,  and  so  successful  were  they,  that  in  a  short  time  the  pro- 
fessional chairs  of  the  universities  of  Europe  were  almost  monopolised 
by  the  learned  members  of  the  mendicant  orders.*  The  constitutions 
required  that  no  one  should  be  licensed  as  a  general  preacher  until 
he  had  studied  theology  for  three  years ;  then  a  provincial  or  general 
chapter  examined  into  his  character  and  learning ;  and,  if  these  were  satis- 
factory, gave  him  his  commission,  either  limiting  his  ministry  to  a  certain 
district  (whence  he  was  called  in  English  a  limitour,  like  Chaucer's  Friar 
Hubert),  or  allowing  him  to  exercise  it  where  he  listed  (when  he  was  called 
a  lister).  This  authority  to  preach,  and  exercise  other  spiritual  functions, 
necessarily  brought  the  friars  into  collision  with  the  parochial  clergy  ;t 
and  while  a  learned  and  good  friar  would  do  much  good  in  parishes  which 
were  cursed  with  an  ignorant,  or  slothful,  or  wicked  pastor,  on  the  other 
hand,  the  inferior  class  of  friars  are  accused  of  abusing  their  position  by 
setting  the  people  against  their  pastors  whose  pulpits  they  usurped,  and 
interfering  injuriously  with  the  discipline  of  the  parishes  into  which  they 
intruded.  For  it  was  not  very  long  before  the  primitive  purity  and  zeal  of 
the  mendicant  orders  began  to  deteriorate.  This  was  inevitable ;  zeal  and 
goodness  cannot  be  perpetuated  by  a  system;  all  human  societies  of 
superior  pretensions  gradually  deteriorate,  even  as  the  Apostolic  Church 
itself  did.  But  there  were  peculiar  circumstances  in  the  system  of  the  mendi- 
cant orders  which  tended  to  induce  rapid  deterioration.  The  profession  of 
mendicancy  tended  to  encourage  the  use  of  all  those  little  paltry  arts  of 

*  As  an  indication  of  their  zeal  in  the  pursuit  of  science  it  is  only  necessary  to  mention 
the  names  of  Friar  Roger  Bacon,  the  Franciscan,  and  Friar  Albert-le-Grand  (Albertus 
Magnus),  the  Dominican.  The  Arts  were  cultivated  with  equal  zeal — some  of  the  finest 
paintings  in  the  world  were  executed  for  the  friars,  and  their  own  orders  produced  artists 
of  the  highest  excellence.  Fra  Giacopo  da  Tunita,  a  celebrated  artist  in  mosaic  of  the 
thirteenth  century,  was  a  Franciscan,  as  was  Fra  Antonio  da  Negroponti,  the  painter  ; 
Fra  Fillippo  Lippi,  the  painter,  was  a  Carmelite  ;  Fra  Bartolomeo,  and  Fra  Angelico  da 
Fiesole — than  whom  no  man  ever  conceived  more  heavenly  visions  of  spiritual  loveliness 
and  purity — were  Dominicans. 

t  "  By  his  (i.e.  Satan's)  queyntise  they  comen  in, 

The  curates  to  helpen, 

But  that  harmed  hem  hard 

And  help  them  ful  littel." — Piers  Ploughman's  Creed. 

The  Orders  of  Friars,. 


popularity-hunting  which  injure  the  usefulness  of  a  minister  of  religion, 
and  lower  his  moral  tone  :  the  fact  that  an  increased  number  of  friars 
was  a  source  of  additional  wealth  to  a  convent,  since  it  gave  an  increased 
number  of  collectors  of  alms  for  it,  tended  to  make  the  convents  less 
scrupulous  as  to  the  fitness  of  the  men  whom  they  admitted.  So  that  we 
can  believe  the  truth  of  the  accusations  of  the  old  satirists,  that  dissolute, 
good-for-nothing  fellows  sought  the  friar's  frock  and  cowl,  for  the  license 
which  it  gave  to  lead  a  vagabond  life,  and  levy  contributions  on  the 
charitable.  Such  men  could  easily  appropriate  to  themselves  a  portion  of 
what  was  given  them  for  the  convent ;  and  they  had  ample  opportunity, 
away  from  the  control  of  their  ecclesiastical  superiors,  to  spend  their 
peculations  in  dissolute  living.*  We  may  take,  therefore,  Chaucer's  Friar 
John,  of  the  Sompnour's  Tale,  as  a  type  of  a  certain  class  of  friars ;  but  we 
must  remember  that  at  the  same  time  there  were  many  earnest,  learned, 
and  excellent  men  in  the  mendicant  orders  ;  even  as  Mawworm  and  John 
Wesley  might  flourish  together  in  the  same  body. 
The  convents  of  friars  were  not  independent  bodies,  like  the  Benedictine 

Costumes  of  the  Four  Orders  of  Friars. 

and  Augustinian  abbeys ;  each  order  was  an  organised  body,  governed  by  the 
general  of  the  order,  and  under  him,  by  provincial  priors,  priors  of  the  con- 
vents, and  their  subordinate  officials.  There  are  usually  reckoned  four  orders 
of  friars — the  Dominicans,  Franciscans,  Carmelites,  and  Augustines. 

*  The  extract  from  Chaucer  on  p.  4b,  lines  4,  5,  0,  seem  to  indicate  that  an  individual 
friar  sometimes  "  fanned  "  the  alms  of  a  district,  paying  the  convent  a  stipulated  sum, 
and  taking  the  surplus  for  himself. 


The  Orders  of  Friars, 

y2&  mtn 

**1  found  there  freresi 
All  the  foure  orders, 
Techynge  the  peple 
To  profit  of  themselves." 

Piers  Ploughman,  1.  215. 

The  four  orders  are  pictured  together  in  the  woodcut  on  the  preceding 
page  from  the  thirteenth  century  MS.  Harl.  1,527. 

They  were  called  Friars  because,  out  of  humility,  their  founders  would 
not  have  them  called  Father  and  Dominus,  like  the  monks,  but  simply 
Brother  (Frater,  Frere,  Friar). 

The  Dominicans  and  Franciscans  arose  simultaneously  at  the 
beginning  of  the  thirteenth   century.      Dominic,  an  Augustinian  canon, 

a  Spaniard  of  noble  birth,  was  seized  with  a 
zeal  for  converting  heretics,  and  having 
gradually  associated  a  few  ecclesiastics  with 
himself,  he  at  length  conceived  the  idea  of 
founding  an  order  of  men  who  should  spend 
their  lives  in  preaching.  Simultaneously, 
Francis,  the  son  of  a  rich  Italian  merchant, 
was  inspired  with  a  design  to  establish  a  new 
order  of  men,  who  should  spend  their  lives 
in  preaching  the  Gospel  and  doing  works  of 
charity  among  the  people.  These  two  men 
met  in  Rome  in  the  year  12 16  a.d.,  and  some 
attempt  was  made  to  induce  them  to  unite 
their  institutions  in  one ;  but  Francis  was 
unwilling,  and  the  Pope  sanctioned  both. 
Both  adopted  the  Augustinian  rule,  and  both 
required  not  only  that  their  followers  personally  should  have  no  property, 
but  also  that  they  should  not  possess  any  property  collectively  as  a  body ; 
their  followers  were  to  work  tor  a  livelihood,  or  to  live  on  alms.  The  two 
orders  retained  something  of  the  character  of  their  founders  :  the  Domi- 
nicans that  of  the  learned,  energetic,  dogmatic,  and  stern  controversialist; 
they  were  defenders  of  the  orthodox  faith,  not  only  by  argument,  but  by  the 
terrors  of  the  Inquisition,  which  was  in  their  hands ;  even  as  their  master 

S.  Dominic  and  S.  Francis. 

The  Dominicans  and  Franciscans. 


is.  rightly  or  wrongly,  said  to  have  sanctioned  the  cruelties  which  were 
used  against  the  Albigenses  when  his  preaching  had  failed  to  convince 
them.  The  Franciscans  retained  something  of  the  character  of  the  pious, 
ardent,  fanciful  enthusiast  from  whom  they  took  their  name. 

Dominic  gave  to  his  order  the  name 
of  Preaching  Friars;  more  commonly 
they  were  styled  Dominicans,  or,  from 
the  colour  of  their  habits,  Black  Friars* 
— their  habit  consisting  of  a  white  tunic, 
fastened  with  a  white  girdle,  over  that 
a  white  scapulary,  and  over  all  a  black 
mantle  and  hood,  and  shoes;  the  lay 
brethren  wore  a  black  scapulary. 

The  woodcut  which  we  give  on 
the  preceding  page  of  two  friars,  with 
their  names,  Dominic  and  Francis, 
inscribed  over  them,  is  taken  from  a 
representation  in  a  MS.  of  the  end  of 
the  thirteenth  century  (Sloan  346),  of  a 
legend  of  a  vision  of  Dominic  related 
in  the  "  Legenda  Aurea,"  in  which  the 
Virgin  Mary  is  deprecating  the  wrath  of 
Christ,  about  to  destroy  the  world  for  its  iniquity,  and  presenting  to  him 
Dominic  and  Francis,  with  a  promise  that  they  will  convert  the  world  from 
its  wickedness.  The  next  woodcut  is  from  Hollar's  print  in  the  "  Monas- 
ticon."  An  early  fifteenth  century  illustration  of  a  Dominican  friar,  in 
black  mantle  and  brown  hood  over  a  white  tunic,  may  be  found  on  the  last 
page  of  the  Harleian  MS.,  1,527.  A  fine  picture  of  St.  Dominic,  by 
Mario  Zoppo  (1471-98),  in  the  National  Gallery,  shows  the  costume  admi- 
rably ;  he  stands  preaching,  with  book  and  rosary  in  his  left  hand.  The 
Dominican  nuns  wore  the  same  dress  with  a  white  veil.  They  had,  accord- 
ing to  the  last  edition  of  the  "  Monasticon,"  fifty-eight  houses  in  England. 

A  Dominican  Friar. 

•  In  France,  Jacobins. 


The  Orders  of  Friars. 

The  Franciscans  were   styled  by  their   founder  Fratri  Minori — lesser 

brothers,  Friars  Minors ;  they  were  more  usually  called  Grey  Friars,  from 

the  colour  of  their  habits,  or  Cordeliers,  from  the  knotted  cord  which 

formed  their  characteristic  girdle.     Their  habit  was  originally  a  grey  tunic 

with  long  loose  sleeves  (but  not  quite  so  loose  as  those  of  the  Benedictines), 

a  knotted  cord  for  a  girdle,  and  a  black  hood ;  the  feet  always  bare,  or 

only  protected  by  sandals.     In  the  fifteenth  century  the  colour  of  the 

habit  was  altered  to  a  dark  brown.     The  woodcut  is  from  Hollar's  print. 

A  picture  of  St.  Francis,  by  Felippino  Lippi  (1460 — 1505),  in  the  National 

Gallery  shows  the  costume  very  clearly.     Piers  Ploughman  describes  the 

irregular  indulgences  in  habit  worn  by  less 

strict  members  of  the  order : — 

"  In  cutting  of  his  cope 
Is  more  cloth  y-folden 
Than  was  in  Frauncis'  froc, 
When  he  them  first  made. 
And  yet  under  that  cope 
A  coat  hath  he,  furred 
With  foyns  or  with  fichews 
Or  fur  of  beaver, 
And  that  is  cut  to  the  knee, 
And  quaintly  y-buttoned 
Lest  any  spiritual  man 
Espie  that  guile. 
Fraunceys  bad  his  brethren 
Barefoot  to  wenden. 
Now  have  they  buckled  shoon 
For  blenying  [blistering]  of  ther  heels, 
And  hosen  in  harde  weather 
Y-hamled  [tied]  by  the  ancle." 

A  beautiful  little  picture  of  St.  Francis 
receiving  the  stigmata  may  be  found  in  a 
Book  of  Offices  of  the  end  of  the  fourteenth 
century  (Harl.  2,897,  f.  407  v.).  Another  fifteenth-century  picture  of  the  same 
subject  is  in  a  Book  of  Hours  (Harl.  5,328,  f.  123).  Some  fine  sixteenth- 
century  authorities  for  Franciscan  costumes  are  in  the  MS.  life  of  St.  Francis 
(Harl.  3,229,  f.  26).  The  principal  picture  represents  St.  Bonaventura,  a 
saint  of  the  order,  in  a  gorgeous  cope  over  his  brown  frock  and  hood,  seated 

A  Franciscan  Friar. 

The  Ca7fnelites.  43 

writing  in  his  cell ;  through  the  open  door  is  seen  a  corridor  with  doors 
opening  off  it  to  other  cells.  In  the  corners  of  the  page  are  other  pictures 
of  St.  Anthony  of  Padua,  and  St.  Bernardine,  and  another  saint,  and  St. 
Clare,  foundress  of  the  female  order  of  Franciscans.  A  very  good 
illumination  of  two  Franciscans  in  grey  frocks  and  hoods,  girded  with 
rope  and  barefooted,  will  be  found  in  the  MS.  Add.  17,687  of  date  1498. 
The  Franciscan  nuns,  or  Minoresses,  or  Poor  Clares,  as  they  were 
)metimes  called,  from  St.  Clare,  the  patron  saint  and  first  nun  of 
le  order,  wore  the  same  habit  as  the  monks,  only  with  a  black  veil 
instead  of  a  hood.  For  another  illustration  of  minoresses  see  MS.  Royal 
1,696,  f.  in,  v.  The  Franciscans  were  first  introduced  into  England, 
at  Canterbury,  in  the  year  1223  A.D.,  and  there  were  sixty-five  houses  of 
the  order  in  England,  besides  four  of  minoresses. 

While  the  Dominicans  retained  their  unity  of  organisation  to  the 
last,  the  Franciscans  divided  into  several  branches,  under  the  names  of 
Minorites,  Capuchins,  Minims,  Observants,  Recollets,  &c 

The  Carmelite  Friars  had  their  origin,  as  their  name  indicates,  in  the 
East.  According  to  their  own  traditions,  ever  since  the  days  of  Elijah, 
whom  they  claim  as  their  founder,  the  rocks  of  Carmel  have  been  inhabited 
by  a  succession  of  hermits,  who  have  lived  after  the  pattern  of  the  great 
prophet  Their  institution  as  an  order  of  friars,  however,  dates  from  the 
beginning  of  the  thirteenth  century,  when  Albert,  Patriarch  of  Jerusalem, 
gave  them  a  rule,  founded  upon,  but  more  severe  than,  that  of  St.  Basil ; 
and  gave  them  a  habit  of  white  and  red  stripes,  which,  according  to 
tradition,  was  the  fashion  of  the  wonder-working  mantle  of  their  prophet- 
founder.  The  order  immediately  spread  into  the  West,  and  Pope 
Honorius  III.  sanctioned  it,  and  changed  the  habit  to  a  white  frock  over 
a  dark  brown  tunic ;  and  very  soon  after,  the  third  general  of  the  order, 
an  Englishman,  Simon  Stock,  added  the  scapulary,  of  the  same  colour  as 
the  tunic,  by  which  they  are  to  be  distinguished  from  the  Premonstratensian 
canons,  whose  habit  is  the  same,  except  that  it  wants  the  scapulary. 
From  the  colour  of  the  habit  the  popular  English  name  for  the  Carmelites 
was  the  White  Friars.  Sir  John  de  Vesci,  an  English  crusader,  in  the 
early  part  of  the  thirteenth  century,  made  the  ascent  of  Mount  Carmel, 


The  Orders  of  Friars. 

and  found  these  religious  living  there,  claiming  to  be  the  successors  of 
Elijah.      The  romantic  incident  seems  to  have  interested  him,  and  he 

brought  back  some  of  them  to  England, 
and  thus  introduced  the  order  here,  where 
it  became  more  popular  than  elsewhere  in 
Europe,  but  it  was  never  an  influential 
order.  They  had  ultimately  fifty  houses  in 

The  Austin  Friars  were  founded  in 
the  middle  of  the  thirteenth  century. 
There  were  still  at  that  time  some  small 
communities  which  were  not  enrolled 
among  any  of  the  great  recognised  orders, 
and  a  great  number  of  hermits  and  soli- 
taries, who  lived  under  no  rule  at  all. 
Pope  Innocent  IV.  decreed  that  all  these 
hermits,  solitaries,  and  separate  communi- 
ties, should  be  incorporated  into  a  new 
order,  under  the  rule  of  St.  Augustine,  with 
some  stricter  clauses  added,  under  the 
name  of  Ermiti  Augustini,  Hermits  of  St. 
Augustine,  or,  as  they  were  popularly  called,  Austin  Friars.  Their  exterior 
habit  was  a  black  gown  with  broad  sleeves,  girded  with  a  leather  belt,  and 
black  cloth  hood.     There  were  forty-five  houses  of  them  in  England. 

There  were  also  some  minor  orders  of  friars,  who  do  not  need  a  detailed 
description.  The  Crutched  (crossed)  Friars,  so  called  because  they  had 
a  red  cross  on  the  back  and  breast  of  their  blue  habit,  were  introduced  into 
England  in  the  middle  of  the  thirteenth  century,  and  had  ten  houses  here. 
The  Friars  de  Pcenitentia,  or  the  Friars  of  the  Sack,  were  introduced  a 
little  lal3»,  and  had  nine  houses.  And  there  were  six  other  friaries  of 
obscure  orders.  But  all  these  minor  mendicant  orders — all  except  the  four 
great  orders,  the  Franciscans,  Dominicans,  Augustinians,  and  Carmelites — . 
were  suppressed  by  the  Council  of  Lyons,  a.d.  1370. 

Chaucer  lived  in  the  latter  half  of  the  fourteenth  century,  when,  after 

A  Carmelite  Friar. 

The  Austin  Friars,  45 

a  hundred  and  forty  years'  existence,  the  orders  of  friars,  or  at  least  many 
individuals  of  the  orders,  had  lost  much  of  their  primitive  holiness  and  zeal. 
His  avowed  purpose  is  to  satirise  their  abuses ;  so  that,  while  we  quote 
him  largely  for  the  life-like  pictures  of  ancient  customs  and  manners 
which  he  gives  us,  we  must  make  allowance  for  the  exaggerations  of  a 
satirist,  and  especially  we  must  not  take  the  faulty  or  vicious  individuals, 
whom  it  suits  his  purpose  to  depict,  as  fair  samples  of  the  whole  class. 
We  have  a  nineteenth-century  satirist  of  the  failings  and  foibles  of  the 
clergy,  to  whom  future  generations  will  turn  for  illustrations  of  the  life  of 
cathedral  towns  and  country  parishes.  We  know  how  wrongly  they  would 
suppose  that  Dr.  Proudie  was  a  fair  sample  of  nineteenth-century  bishops, 
or  Dr.  Grantley  of  archdeacons  "  of  the  period,"  or  Mr.  Smylie  of  the 
evangelical  clergy ;  we  know  there  is  no  real  bishop,  archdeacon,  or 
incumbent  among  us  of  whom  those  characters,  so  cleverly  and  amusingly, 
and  in  one  sense  so  truthfully,  drawn,  are  anything  but  exaggerated 
likenesses.  With  this  caution,  we  do  not  hesitate  to  borrow  illustrations  of 
our  subject  from  Chaucer  and  other  contemporary  writers. 

In  his  description  of  Friar  Hubert,  who  was  one  of  the  Canterbury 
pilgrims,  he  tells  us  how — 

"  Full  well  beloved  and  familiar  was  he 
With  frankelins  over  all  in  his  countrie  ; 
And  eke  with  worthy  women  of  the  town,* 
For  he  had  power  of  confession, 
As  said  himself,  more  than  a  curate, 
For  of  his  order  he  was  licenciate. 
Full  sweetely  heard  he  confession, 
And  pleasant  was  his  absolution. 
He  was  an  easy  man  to  give  penance 
There  as  he  wist  to  have  a  good  pittance, 
For  unto  a  poor  order  for  to  give, 
Is  signe  that  a  man  is  well  y-shrive. 

*  *  *  • 

His  tippet  was  aye  farsedf  full  of  knives 
And  pinnes  for  to  give  to  faire  wives. 
And  certainly  he  had  a  merry  note, 
Well  could  he  sing  and  playen  on  a  rote.J 

•  Wives  of  burgesses.  f  Stuffed.  \  Musical  instrument  so  called. 

46  The  Orders  of  Friars, 

And  over  all  there  as  profit  should  arise, 
Courteous  he  was,  and  lowly  of  service. 
There  was  no  man  no  where  so  virtuous, 
He  was  the  beste  beggar  in  all  his  house, 
And  gave  a  certain  ferme  for  the  grant 
None  of  his  brethren  came  in  his  haunt." 

As  to  his  costume  : — 

For  there  was  he  not  like  a  cloisterer, 
With  threadbare  cope,  as  is  a  poor  scholar, 
But  he  was  like  a  master  or  a  pope, 
Of  double  worsted  was  his  semi-cope,* 
That  round  was  as  a  bell  out  of  the  press." 

In  the  Sompnour's  tale  the  character,  here  merely  sketched,  is  worked 

out  in  detail,  and  gives  such  a  wonderfully  life-like  picture  of  a  friar,  and 

of  his  occupation,  and  his  intercourse  with  the  people,  that  we  cannot  do 

better  than  lay  considerable  extracts  from  it  before  our  readers  : — 

"  Lordings  there  is  in  Yorkshire,  as  I  guess, 
A  marsh  country  y-called  Holderness, 
In  which  there  went  a  limitourf  about 
To  preach,  and  eke  to  beg,  it  is  no  doubt. 
And  so  befel  that  on  a  day  this  frere 
Had  preached  at  a  church  in  his  mannere, 
And  specially  aboven  every  thing 
Excited  he  the  people  in  his  preaching 
To  trentals,!  and  to  give  for  Godd6's  sake, 
Wherewith  men  mighten  holy  houses  make, 
There  as  divine  service  is  honoured, 
Not  there  as  it  is  wasted  and  devoured.} 

*  Piers  Ploughman  (creed  3,  line  434),  describing  a  burly  Dominican  friar,  describe! 
his  cloak  or  cope  in  the  same  terms,  and  describes  the  under  gown,  or  kirtle.  also  :— 
"  His  cope  that  beclypped  him 
Wei  clean  was  it  folden, 
Of  double  worsted  y-dyght 
Down  to  the  heel. 
His  kirtle  of  clean  white, 
Cleanly  y-served, 
It  was  good  enough  ground 
Grain  for  to  beren." 

t  A  limitour,  as  has  been  explained  above,  was  a  friar  whose  functions  were  limited 
to  a  certain  district  of  country ;  a  lister  might  exercise  his  office  wherever  he  listed. 
X  Thirty  masses  for  the  repose  of  a  deceased  person. 
f  Viz.,  in  convents  of  friars,  not  in  monasteries  of  monks  and  by  the  secular  clergy. 

Chaucer's  Dominican  Friars. 


•  Trentals,'  said  he,  *  deliver  from  penance 
Ther  friendes'  soules,  as  well  old  as  young, 
Yea,  when  that  they  are  speedily  y-sung. 
Not  for  to  hold  a  priest  jolly  and  gay, 
He  singeth  not  but  one  mass*  of  a  day, 
Deliver  out,'  quoth  he,  '  anonf  the  souls. 
Full  hard  it  is,  with  flesh-hook  or  with  owle» 
To  be  y-clawed,  or  to  burn  or  bake : 
Now  speed  you  heartily,  for  Christ's  sake.' 

And  when  this  frere  had  said  all  his  intent, 
"With  qui  cum  patre%  forth  his  way  he  went ; 
When  folk  in  church  had  given  him  what  they  lest 
He  went  his  way,  no  longer  would  he  rest." 

Then  he  takes  his  way  through  the  village  with  his  brother  friar  (it 
seems  to  have  been  the  rule  for  them  to  go  in  couples)  and  a  servant  after 
them  to  carry  their  sack,  begging  at  every  house. 

-  With  scrippe  and  tipped  staff,  y-tucked  high, 
In  every  house  he  gan  to  pore  and  pry ; 
And  begged  meal  or  cheese,  or  elles  corn. 
His  fellow  had  a  staff  tipped  with  horn, 
A  pair  of  tables  all  of  ivory, 
And  a  pointel  y-polished  fetisly, 
And  wrote  always  the  names,  as  he  stood, 
Of  alle  folk  that  gave  them  any  good, 
As  though  that  he  woulde  for  them  pray. 
•  Give  us  a  bushel  of  wheat,  or  malt,  or  rye, 
A  Godde's  kichel,§  or  a  trippe  of  cheese  ; 
Or  elles  what  you  list,  we  may  not  chese ;  | 
A  Godde's  halfpenny,  or  a  mass  penny, 
Or  give  us  of  your  bran,  if  ye  have  any, 
A  dagon  If  of  your  blanket,  dear6  dame, 
Our  sister  dear  (lo  !  here  I  write  your  name)  : 
Bacon  or  beef,  or  such  thing  as  you  find.' 
A  sturdy  harlot*  *  went  them  aye  behind, 

*  He  was  forbidden  to  say  more. 

t  A  convent  of  friars  used  to  undertake  masses  for  the  dead,  and  each  friar  saying  one 
the  whole  number  of  masses  was  speedily  completed,  whereas  a  single  priest  saying  his 
one  mass  a  day  would  be  very  long  completing  the  number,  and  meantime  the  souls  were 
supposed  to  be  in  torment. 

%  The  usual  way  of  concluding  a  sermon,  in  those  days  as  in  these,  was  with  an  ascrip- 
tion of  praise,  "  Who  with  the  Father,"  &c. 

?  Cake.  |  Choose.  5  Slip  or  piece.  •*  Hired  man. 

48  The  Orders  of  Friars. 

That  was  their  hostess  man,  and  bare  a  sack, 
And  what  men  gave  them  laid  it  on  his  back. 
And  when  that  he  was  out  at  door,  anon 
He  planed  away  the  names  every  one, 
That  he  before  had  written  on  his  tables  ; 
He  served  them  with  triffles*  and  with  fables." 

At  length  he  comes  to  a  house  in  which,  the  goodwife  being  rfev$tey  ha 
has  been  accustomed  to  be  hospitably  received : — 

"  So  along  he  went,  from  house  to  house,  till  he 
Came  to  a  house  where  he  was  wont  to  be 
Refreshed  more  than  in  a  hundred  places. 
Sirk  lay  the  husbandman  whose  that  the  place  is ; 
Bedrid  upon  a  couche  low  he  lay  : 
1  Deus  hie,''  quoth  he,  'O  Thomas,  friend,  good  day  '* 
Said  this  frere,  all  courteously  and  soft. 

•  Thomas,'  quoth  he,  '  God  yieldf  it  you,  full  eft 
Have  I  upon  this  bench  fared  full  well, 

Here  have  I  en  ten  many  a  merry  meal.' 
Aiid  from  the  bench  he  drove  away  the  cat, 
And  laid  adown  his  potent  J  and  his  hat, 
And  eke  his  scrip,  and  set  himself  adown  : 
His  fellow  was  y-walked  into  town 
Forth  with  his  knave,  into  that  hostlery 
Where  as  he  shope  him  thilke"  night  to  lie 
'O  dere  master,'  quoth  this  sicke  man, 
'  How  have  ye  fared  since  that  March  began? 
I  saw  you  not  this  fourteen  night  and  more.' 

'  God  wot,'  quoth  he,  '  laboured  have  I  full  sore  { 
And  specially  for  thy  solvation 
Have  I  sayd  many  a  precious  orison, 
And  for  our  other  friendes,  God  them  bless. 
I  have  this  day  been  at  your  church  at  messe, 
And  said  a  sermon  to  my  simple  wit. 

*  %  *  • 

And  there  I  saw  our  dame.     Ah  !  where  is  she  p  * 

*  Yonder  I  trow  that  in  the  yard  she  be,' 
Saide  this  man,  '  and  she  will  come-  anon.' 

*  Eh  master,  welcome  be  ye,  by  St.  John ! ' 
Saide  this  wife  ;  '  how  fare  ye  heartily  ?  ' 

This  friar  ariseth  up  full  courteously, 
And  her  embraceth  in  his  arm£s  narwe,§ 
And  kisseth  her  sweet,  and  chirketh  as  a  sparrow 

*  Trifles.  t  Requite.  %  Staff.  {  Closely. 

The  Friars.  40 

With  his  lippes  :  '  Dame,'  quoth  he,  '  right  weli. 
As  he  that  is  your  servant  every  deal.* 
Thanked  be  God  that  you  gave  soul  and  life, 
Yet  saw  I  not  this  day  so  fair  a  wife 
In  all  the  churche",  God  so  save  me. ' 

'Yea,  God  amende"  defaults,  sire,'  quoth  she: 
*  Algates  welcome  be  ye,  by  my  fay.' 

•  Graunt  mercy,  dame ;  that  have  I  found  alway. 
But  of  your  great  goodness,  by  your  leve, 
I  wouldfi  pray  you  that  ye  not  you  grieve, 
I  will  with  Thomas  speak  a  little  throw ; 
These  curates  be  so  negligent  and  slow 
To  searchen  tenderly  a  conscience. 
In  shrift,  in  preaching,  is  my  diligence, 
And  study,  on  Peter's  words  and  on  Paul's, 
I  walk  and  fishen  Christian  menne's  souls, 
To  yield  our  Lord  Jesu  his  proper  rent ; 
To  spread  his  word  is  set  all  mine  intent.' 

•Now,  by  your  faith,  dere  sir,'  quoth  she, 
■  Chide  him  well  for  Seinte  Charitee. 
He  is  as  angry  as  a  pissemire,'  "  &c. 

Whereupon  the  friar  begins  at  once  to  scold  the  goodman  :— 

" '  O  Thomas,  je  vous  die,  Thomas,  Thomas, 
This  maketh  the  fiend,  this  must  be  amended. 
Ire  is  a  thing  that  high  God  hath  defended.f 
And  therefore  will  I  speak  a  word  or  two.' 

'  Now,  master,'  quoth  the  wife,  '  ere  that  I  go, 
What  will  ye  dine  ?    I  will  go  thereabout.' 

'  Now,  dame,'  quoth  he,  'je  vous  dis  sans  double, 
Have  I  not  of  a  capon  but  the  liver, 
And  of  your  white  bread  but  a  shiver, 
And  after  that  a  roasted  pigg6's  head 
(But  I  ne  would  for  me  no  beast  were  dead), 
Then  had  I  with  you  homely  sufnsance ; 
I  am  a  man  of  little  sustenance, 
My  spirit  hath  his  fostering  in  the  Bible. 
My  body  is  aye  so  ready  and  so  penible 
To  waken,  that  my  stomach  is  destroyed. 
I  pray  you,  dame,  that  ye  be  not  annoyed, 
Though  I  so  friendly  you  my  counsel  shew. 
By  God  !  I  n'oldj  have  told  it  but  a  few.' 

•  Part.  f  Forbidden.  %  Would  not 


50  The  Orders  of  Friars. 

'  Now,  sir,'  quoth  she,  '  but  one  word  ere  I  go. 
My  child  is  dead  within  these  weekgs  two, 
Soon  after  that  ye  went  out  of  this  town.'  * 

'  His  death  saw  I  by  revelation,' 
Said  this  frere,  '  at  home  in  our  dortour.t 
I  dare  well  say  that  ere  that  half  an  hour 
After  his  death,  I  saw  him  borne  to  blisse 
In  mine  vision,  so  God  me  wisse. 
So  did  our  sexton  and  our  fermerere,J 
That  have  been  true"  friars  fifty  year ; 
They  may  now,  God  be  thanked  of  his  loan, 
Make  their  jubilee  and  walke  alone.'  "§ 

We  do  not  care  to  continue  the  blasphemous  lies  with  which  he  plays 
upon  the  mother's  tenderness  for  her  dead  babe.  At  length,  addressing 
the  sick  goodman,  he  continues  : — 

"  •  Thomas,  Thomas,  so  might  I  ride  or  go, 
And  by  that  lord  that  cleped  is  St.  Ive, 
N'ere||  thou  our  brother,  shouldest  thou  not  thrive, 
In  our  chapter  pray  we  IT  day  and  night 
To  Christ  that  he  thee  send  hele  and  might** 
Thy  body  for  to  welden  hastily.' 

*  God  wot,'  quoth  he,  '  I  nothing  thereof  feel, 
So  help  me  Christ,  as  I  in  fewe-  years 
Have  spended  upon  divers  manner  freres 
Full  many  a  pound,  yet  fare  I  never  the  bet.' 

The  frere  answered,  •  O  Thomas,  dost  thou  so? 
What  need  have  you  diverse  friars  to  seche  ? 
What  needeth  him  that  hath  a  perfect  leech  ft 
To  seeken  other  leches  in  the  town  ? 
Your  inconstancy  is  your  confusion. 
Hold  ye  then  me,  or  elles  our  convent, 
To  pray  for  you  is  insufficient  ? 
Thomas,  that  jape  is  not  worth  a  mite ; 
Your  malady  is  for  we  have  too  lite.  J  J 

*  The  good  man  also  said  he  had  not  seen  the  friar  "  this  fourteen  nights :  " — Did  a 
limitour  go  round  once  a  fortnight  ? 

f  The  dormitory  of  the  convent. 

j  Infirm arer. 

§  Aged  monks  and  friars  lived  in  the  Infirmary,  and  had  certain  privileges. 

||  Wert  thou  not. 

%  Implying,  whether  truly  or  not,  that  he  had  been  enrolled  in  the  fratemitv  of  the 
house,  and  was  prayed  for,  with  other  benefactors,  in  chapter. 

•*  Health  and  strength.  ft  Doctor.  %%  Little. 

The  Friars, 


Ah  !  give  that  convent  half  a  quarter  of  oates  ; 
And  give  that  convent  four  and  twenty  groats  ; 
And  give  that  friar  a  penny  and  let  him  go  ; 
Nay,  nay,  Thomas,  it  may  nothing  be  so  ; 
"VY  hat  is  a  farthing  worth  parted  in  twelve  ?  " 

id  so  he  takes  up  the  cue  the  wife  had  given  him,  and  reads  him  a 
mg  sennon  on  anger,  quoting  Seneca,  and  giving,  for  instances,  Cambyses 
id  Cyrus,  and  at  length  urges  him  to  confession.     To  this — 

"  'Nay,'  quoth  the  sick  man,  '  by  Saint  Simon, 
I  have  been  shriven  this  day  by  my  curate.' 

•  Give  me  then  of  thy  gold  to  make  our  cloister,' 

id  again  he  proclaims  the  virtues  and  morals  of  his  order. 

"  'For  if  ye  lack  our  predication,* 
Then  goth  this  world  all  to  destruction.  * 

For  whoso  from  this  world  would  us  bereave, 
So  God  me  save,  Thomas,  by  your  leave, 
He  would  bereave  out  of  this  world  the  sun,'  &c. 

md  so  ends  with  the  ever-recurring  burden  : — 

"  '  Now,  Thomas,  help  for  Sainte  Charitee.' 
This  sicke  man  wax  well  nigh  wood  for  ire.t 
He  woulde  that  the  freie  had  been  a  fire, 
"With  his  false  dissimulation ;" 

id  proceeds  to  play  a  practical  joke  upon  him,  which  will  not  bear  even 

inting  at,  but  which  sufficiendy  shows  that  superstition  did  not  prevent 

ien  from  taking  great  liberties,  expressing  the  utmost  contempt  of  these 

len.     Moreover, — 

"  His  mennie  which  had  hearden  this  affray, 
Came  leaping  in  and  chased  out  the  frere." 

Thus  ignominiously  turned  out  of  the  goodman's  house,  the  friar  goes 
the  court-house  of  the  lord  of  the  village  : — 

"  A  sturdy  pace  down  to  the  court  he  goth, 
Whereat  there  woned  %  a  man  of  great  honour, 
To  whom  this  friar  was  alway  confessour ; 
This  worthy  man  was  lord  of  that  village. 

*  Preaching ;  he  was  probably  a  preaching  friar- 
f  Waxed  nearly  mad.  £  Lived. 

Lfc,  a  Dominican. 

52  The  Orders  of  Friars. 

This  frere  came,  as  he  were  in  a  rage, 
Whereas  this  lord  sat  eating  at  his  board. 

*  »  »  • 

This  lord  gan  look,  and  saide,  'Benedicite  ! 
What,  frere  John  !  what  manner  of  world  is  this  ? 
I  see  well  that  something  there  is  amiss.'  " 

We  need  only  complete  the  picture  by  adding  the  then  actors  in  it : — 

"  The  lady  of  the  house  aye  stille  sat, 
Till  she  had  herde  what  the  friar  said." 


"  Now  stood  the  lorde's  squire  at  the  board, 
That  carved  his  meat,  and  hearde  every  word 
Of  all  the  things  of  which  I  have  you  said." 

And  it  needs  little  help  of  the  imagination  to  complete  this  con- 
temporary picture  of  an  English  fourteenth-century  village,  with  its  lord 
and  its  well-to-do  farmer,  and  its  villagers,  its  village  inn,  its  parish  church 
and  priest,  and  the  fortnightly  visit  of  the  itinerant  friars. 

We  have  now  completed  our  sketch  of  the  rise  of  the  religious  orders, 
and  of  their  general  character ;  we  have  only  to  conclude  this  portion  of 
our  task  with  a  brief  history  of  their  suppression  in  England.  Henry  VIII. 
had  resoved  to  break  with  the  pope ;  the  religious  orders  were  great 
upholders  of  the  papal  supremacy ;  the  friars  especially  were  called  ;'  the 
pope's  militia ; "  the  king  resolved,  therefore,  upon  the  destruction  of 
the  friars.  The  pretext  was  a  reform  of  the  religious  orders.  At  the  end 
of  the  year  1535  a  royal  commission  undertook  the  visitation  of  all  the 
religious  houses,  above  one  thousand  three  hundred  in  number,  including 
their  cells  and  hospitals.  They  performed  their  task  with  incredible 
celerity — "  the  king's  command  was  exceeding  urgent ; "  and  in  ten  weeks 
they  presented  their  report.  The  small  houses  they  reported  to  be  full  of 
irregularity  and  vice ;  while  "  in  the  great  solemne  monasteries,  thanks 
be  to  God,  religion  was  right  well  observed  and  kept  up."  So  the  king's 
decree  went  forth,  and  parliament  ratified  it,  that  all  the  religious  houses 
of  less  than  ^200  annual  value  should  be  suppressed.  This  just  caught 
all  the  friaries,  and  a  few  of  the  less  powerful  monasteries  for  the  sake  of 
impartiality.  Perhaps  the  monks  were  not  greatly  moved  at  the  destruc- 
tion which  had  come  upon  their  rivals ;  but  their  turn  very  speedily  came. 

The  Friars.  53 

They  were  not  suppressed  forcibly ;  but  they  were  induced  to  surrender. 
The  patronage  of  most  of  the  abbacies  was  in  the  king's  hands,  or  under 
his  control.     He  induced  some  of  the  abbots  by  threats  or  cajolery,  and 
the  offer  of  place  and  pension,  to  surrender  their  monasteries  into  his 
hand ;  others  he  induced  to  surrender  their  abbatial  offices   only,   into 
which   he  placed  creatures  of  his  own,  who   completed   the   surrender. 
Some  few  intractable   abbots — like  those  of  Reading,  Glastonbury,  and 
St.  John's,  Colchester,  who  would  do  neither  one  nor  the  other — were  found 
guilty  of  high  treason — no  difficult  matter  when  it  had  been  made  high 
treason  by  act  of  Parliament  to  "  publish  in  words  "  that  the  king  was  an 
"  heretic,  schismatic,  or  tyrant " — and  they  were  disposed  of  by  hanging, 
drawing,  and  quartering.     The  Hospitallers  of  Clerkenwell  were  still  more 
difficult  to  deal  with,  and  required  a  special  act  of  Parliament  to  suppress 
them.     Those  who  gave  no  trouble  were  rewarded  with  bishoprics,  livings, 
and  pensions ;  the  rest  were  turned  adrift  on  the  wide  world,  to  dig,  or 
beg,  or  starve.     We  are  not  defending  the  principle  of  monasticism ;  it 
may  be  that,  with  the  altered  circumstances  of  the   church   and   nation, 
the  day  of  usefulness  of   the  monasteries  had  passed.      But  we  cannot 
restrain  an  expression  of  indignation  at  the  shameless,  reckless  manner 
of  the  suppression.     The  commissioners  suggested,  and  Bishop  Latimer 
entreated  in  vain,  that  two  or  three  monasteries  should  be  left  in  every 
shire  for  religious,  and  learned,  and  charitable  uses ;  they  were  all  shared 
among  the  king  and  his  courtiers.     The  magnificent  churches  were  pulled 
down ;  the  libraries,  of  inestimable  value,  were  destroyed  j  the  alms  which 
the  monks  gave  to  the  poor,  the  hospitals  which  they  maintained  for  the 
old  and  impotent,  the  infirmaries  for  the  sick,  the  schools  for  the  people 
— all  went  in  the  wreck ;  and  the  tithes  of  parishes  which  were  in  the 
hands  of  the  monasteries,  were  swallowed  up  indiscriminately — they  were 
not  men  to  strain  at  such  gnats  while  they  were   swallowing  camels — 
some  three  thousand  parishes,  including  those  of  the  most  populous  and 
important  towns,  were  left  impoverished  to  this  day.     No  wonder  that  the 
fountains  of  religious   endowment  in  England  have  been  dried  up  ever 
since ; — and  the  course  of  modern  legislation  is  not  calculated  to  set  them 
again  a-fiowing. 



AVING  thus  given  a  sketch  of  the  history  of  the  various  monastic 
orders  in  England,  we  proceed  to  give  some  account  of  the 
constitution  of  a  convent,  taking  that  of  a  Benedictine  monastery 
as  a  type,  from  which  the  other  orders  departed  only  in  minor  particulars. 

The  convent  is  the  name  especially  appropriate  to  the  body  of  indi- 
viduals who  composed  a  religious  community.  These  were  the  body 
of  cloister  monks,  lay  and  clerical;  the  professed  brethren,  who  were 
also  lay  and  clerical ;  the  clerks ;  the  novices ;  and  the  servants  and 
artificers.  The  servants  and  artificers  were  of  course  taken  from  the  lower 
ranks  of  society ;  all  the  rest  were  originally  of  the  most  various  degrees 
of  rank  and  social  position.  We  constantly  meet  with  instances  of  noble 
men  and  women,  knights  and  ladies,  minstrels  and  merchants,  quitting 
their  secular  occupations  at  various  periods  of  their  life,  and  taking  the 
religious  habit ;  some  of  them  continuing  simply  professed  brethren,  others 
rising  to  high  offices  in  their  order.  Scions  of  noble  houses  were  not 
infrequently  entered  at  an  early  age  as  novices,  either  devoted  to  the 
religious  life  by  the  piety  of  their  parents,  or,  with  more  worldly  motives, 
thus  provided  with  a  calling  and  a  maintenance ;  and  sometimes  con- 
siderable interest  was  used  to  procure  the  admittance  of  novices  into  the 
great  monasteries.  Again,  the  children  of  the  poor  were  received  into  the 
monastic  schools,  and  such  as  showed  peculiar  aptitude  were  sometimes  at 
length  admitted  as  monks,*  and  were  eligible,  and  were  often  chosen,  to 
the  highest  ecclesiastical  dignities. 

•  "  On  the  foundation,"  as  we  say  now  of  colleges  and  endowed  schools. 

The  Convent.  55 

The  whole  convent  was  under  the  government  of  the  abbot,  who,  how- 
ever, ?/as  bound  to  govern  according  to  the  rule  of  the  order.  Sometimes 
he  was  elected  by  the  convent ;  sometimes  the  king  or  some  patron 
had  a  share  in  the  election.  Frequently  there  were  estates  attached  to 
the  office,  distinct  from  those  of  the  convent ;  sometimes  the  abbot  had 
only  an  allowance  out  of  the  convent  estates ;  but  always  he  had  great 
power  over  the  property  of  the  convent,  and  bad  abbots  are  frequently 
accused  of  wasting  the  property  of  the  house,  and  enriching  their  relatives 
and  friends  out  of  it.  The  abbots  of  some  of  the  more  important  houses 
were  mitred  abbots,  and  were  summoned  to  Parliament.  In  the  time  of 
Henry  VIII.  twenty-four  abbots  and  the  prior  of  Coventry  had  seats  in  the 
House  of  Peers.* 

The  abbot  did  not  live  in  common  with  his  monks ;  he  had  a  separate 
establishment  of  his  own  within  the  precincts  of  the  house,  sometimes  over 
the  entrance  gate,  called  the  Abbot's  Lodgings.f  He  ate  in  his  own  hall, 
slept  in  his  own  chamber,  had  a  chapel,  or  oratory,  for  his  private  devotions, 
and  accommodation  for  a  retinue  of  chaplains  and  servants.  His  duty 
was  to  set  to  his  monks  an  example  of  observance  of  the  rule,  to  keep 
them  to  its  observance,  to  punish  breaches  of  it,  to  attend  the  services  in 
church  when  not  hindered  by  his  other  duties,  to  preach  on  holy  days  to 
the  people,  to  attend  chapter  and  preach  on  the  rule,  to  act  as  confessor 
to  the  monks.  But  an  abbot  was  also  involved  in  many  secular  duties ; 
there  were  manors  of  his  own,  and  of  the  convent's,  far  and  near,  which 
required  visiting;  and  these  manors  involved  the  abbot  in  all  the  numerous 

•     "  Maysters  of  divinite 
Her  matynes  to  leve, 
And  cherliche  [richly]  as  a  cheveteyn 
His  chaumbre  to  holden, 
With  chymene  and  chaple, 
And  chosen  whom  him  list, 
And  served  as  a  sovereyn, 
And  as  a  lord  sytten." 

Piers  Ploughman,  1.  1,157. 
t  Just  as  heads  of  colleges  now  have  their  Master's,  or  Provost's,  or  Principal's  Lodpe. 
The  constitution  of  our  existing  colleges  will  assist  those  who  are  acquainted  with  thena 
in  understanding  many  points  of  monastic  economy. 


The  Orders  of  Friars, 

duties  which  the  feudal  system  devolved  upon  a  lord  towards  his  tenants, 
and  towards  his  feudal  superior.  The  greater  abbots  were  barons,  and 
sometimes  were  thus  involved  in  such  duties  as  those  of  justices  in  eyre, 
military  leaders  of  their  vassals,  peers  of  Parliament.  Hospitality  was 
one  of  the  great  monastic  virtues.  The  usual  regulation  in  convents  was 
that  the  abbot  should  entertain  all  guests  of  gentle  degree,  while  the 
convent  entertained  all  others.  This  again  found  abundance  of  occupa- 
tion for  my  lord  abbot  in  performing  all 
the  offices  of  a  courteous  host,  which  seems 
to  have  been  done  in  a  way  becoming  his 
character  as  a  lord  of  wealth  and  dignity ; 
his  table  was  bountifully  spread,  even  if  he 
chose  to  confine  himself  to  pulse  and 
water ;  a  band  of  wandering  minstrels  was 
always  welcome  to  the  abbofs  hall  to 
entertain  his  gentle  and  fair  guests ;  and 
his  falconer  could  furnish  a  cast  of  hawks, 
and  his  forester  a  leash  of  hounds,  and  the 
lord  abbot  would  not  decline  to  ride  by 
the  river  or  into  his  manor  parks  to  wit- 
ness and  to  share  in  the  sport.  In  the 
Harl.  MS.  1,527,  at  fol.  108  (?),  is  a 
picture  of  an  abbot  on  horseback  casting 
off  a  hawk  from  his  fist.  A  pretty  little 
illustration  of  this  abbatial  hospitality 
A  Benedictine  Abbot.  occurs  in  Marie's  "  Lay  of  Ywonec."  *    A 

baron  and  his  family  are  travelling  in  obedience  to  the  royal  summons,  to 
keep  one  of  the  high  festivals  at  Caerleon.  In  the  course  of  their  journey 
they  stop  for  a  night  at  a  spacious  abbey,  where  they  are  received  with  the 
greatest  hospitality.  "  The  good  abbot,  for  the  sake  of  detaining  his  guests 
during  another  day,  exhibited  to  them  the  whole  of  the  apartments,  the 
dormitory,  the  refectory,  and  the  chapter-house,  in  which  last  they  beheld 

Ellis's  "Early  English  Romances." 

The  Convent. 


a  splendid  tomb  covered  with  a  superb  pall  fringed  with  gold,  surrounded 
by  twenty  waxen  tapers  in  golden  candlesticks,  while  a  vast  silver  censer, 
constandy  burning,  filled  the  air  with  fumes  of  incense." 

An  abbot's  ordinary  habit  was  the  same  as  that  of  his  monks.  In  the 
processions  which  were  made  on  certain  great  feasts  he  held  his  crosier, 
and,  if  he  were  a  mitred  abbot,  he  wore  his  mitre  :  this  was  also  his  parlia- 
mentary costume.  We  give  on  the  opposite  page  a  beautiful  drawing  of  a 
Benedictine  abbot  of  St.  Alban's,  thus  habited,  from  the  Catalogus  Benefac- 
torttm  of  that  abbey.  When  the  abbot  celebrated  high  mass  on  certain  great 
festivals  he  wore  the  full  episcopal  costume.  Thomas  Delamere,  abbot 
of  St.  Alban's,  is  so  represented  in  his  magnificent  sepulchral  brass  in  that 
abbey,  executed  in  his  lifetime,  circa  1375  a.d.  Richard  Bewferest,  abbot 
of  the  Augustine  canons  of  Dorchester,  Oxfordshire,  has  a  brass  in  that 

Benedictine  Abbess  and  Nun. 

church,  date  circa  1520  a.d.,  representing  him  in  episcopal  costume,  bare- 
headed, with  his  staff;  and  in  the  same  church  is  an  incised  gravestone, 
representing  Abbot  Roger,  circa  15 10  a.d.,  in  full  episcopal  vestments. 
Abbesses  bore  the  crosier  in  addition  to  the  ordinary  costume  of  their 
order;  the  sepulchral  brass  of  Elizabeth  Harvey,  abbess  of  the  Benedictine 
Abbey  of  Elstow,  Bedfordshire,  circa  1530  A.D.,  thus  represents  her,  in  the 

58  The  Monks  of  the  Middle  Ages. 

church  of  that  place.  Our  representation  of  a  Benedictine  abbess  on  the 
previous  page  is  from  the  fourteenth  century  MS.  Royal,  2  B.  vii. 

Under  the  abbot  were  a  number  of  officials  {obedientiarii),  the  chief  of 
whom  were  the  Prior,  Precentor,  Cellarer,  Sacrist,  Hospitaller,  Infirmarer, 
Almoner,  Master  of  the  Novices,  Porter,  Kitchener,  Seneschal,  &c.  It 
was  only  in  large  monasteries  that  all  these  officers  were  to  be  found ;  in 
the  smaller  houses  one  monk  would  perform  the  duties  of  several  offices. 
The  officers  seem  to  have  been  elected  by  the  convent,  subject  to  the 
approval  of  the  abbot,  by  whom  they  might  be  deposed.  Some  brief  notes 
of  the  duties  of  these  obedientiaries  will  serve  to  give  a  considerable 
insight  into  the  economy  of  a  convent.     And  first  for  the  Prior : — 

In  some  orders  there  was  only  one  abbey,  and  all  the  other  houses  were 
priories,  as  in  the  Clugniac,  the  Gilbertine,  and  in  the  Military  and  the 
Mendicant  orders.  In  all  the  orders  there  were  abbeys,  which  had  had 
distant  estates  granted  to  them,  on  which  either  the  donor  had  built  a 
house,  and  made  it  subject  to  the  abbey;  or  the  abbey  had  built  a  house 
for  the  management  of  the  estates,  and  the  celebration  of  divine  and 
charitable  offices  upon  them.  These  priories  varied  in  size,  from  a  mere 
cell  containing  a  prior  and  two  monks,  to  an  establishment  as  large  as  an 
abbey ;  and  the  dignity  and  power  of  the  prior  varied  from  that  of  a  mere 
steward  of  the  distant  estate  of  the  parent  house,  to  that  of  an  autocratic 
head,  only  nominally  dependent  on  the  parent  house,  and  himself  in  every- 
thing but  name  an  abbot. 

The  majority  of  the  female  houses  of  the  various  orders  (except  those 
which  were  especially  female  orders,  like  the  Brigittines,  &c.)  were  kept 
subject  to  some  monastery,  so  that  the  superiors  of  these  houses  usually 
bore  only  the  title  of  prioress,  though  they  had  the  power  of  an  abbess  in 
the  internal  discipline  of  the  house.  One  cannot  forbear  to  quote  at  least 
a  portion  of  Chaucer's  very  beautiful  description  of  his  prioress,  among  the 
Canterbury  pilgrims : — 

**  That  of  her  smiling  ful  simple  was  and  coy." 

She  sang  the  divine  service  sweetly ;  she  spoke  French  correctly,  though 
with  an  accent  which  savoured  of  the  Benedictine  convent  at  Stratford-le- 

The  Convent.  59 

Bow,  where  she  had  been  educated,  rather  than  of  Paris ;  she  behaved 
with  lady-like  delicacy  at  table ;  she  was  cheerful  of  mood,  and  amiable  ; 
with  a  pretty  affectation  of  courtly  breeding,  and  a  care  to  exhibit  a 
reverend  stateliness  becoming  her  office  : — 

"  But  for  to  speken  of  her  conscience, 
She  was  so  charitable  and  so  piteous, 
She  would  wepe  if  that  she  saw  a  mouse 
Caught  in  a  trappe,  if  it  were  dead  or  bled ; 
Of  smale"  houndes  had  she  that  she  fed 
With  rosted  flesh,  and  milk,  and  wastel  bread ; 
But  sore  wept  she  if  one  of  them  were  dead, 
Or  if  men  smote  it  with  a  yerde  smerte ; 
And  all  was  conscience  and  tendre  herte. 
Ful  semely  her  wimple  y-pinched  was  ; 
Her  nose  tretis,*  her  eyen  grey  as  glass, 
Her  mouth  full  small,  and  thereto  soft  and  red, 
And  sickerly  she  had  a  fayre  forehed — 
It  was  almost  a  spanne"  broad  I  trow, 
And  hardily  she  was  not  undergrow."f 

Her  habit  was  becoming ;  her  beads  were  of  red  coral  gauded  with  green, 
to  which  was  hung  a  jewel  of  gold,  on  which  was — 

"  Written  a  crowned  A, 
And  after,  Amor  vincit  omnia. 
Another  nun  also  with  her  had  she, 
That  was  her  chapelleine,  and  priestes  three." 

But  in  abbeys  the  chief  of  the  obedientiaries  was  styled  prior ;  and  we 
cannot,  perhaps,  give  a  better  idea  of  his  functions  than  by  borrowing  a 
naval  analogy,  and  calling  him  the  abbot's  first  lieutenant ;  for,  like  that 
officer  in  a  ship,  the  prior  at  all  times  carried  on  the  internal  discipline  of 
the  convent,  and  in  the  abbot's  absence  he  was  his  vicegerent ;  wielding  all 
the  abbot's  powers,  except  those  of  making  or  deposing  obedientiaries  and 
consecrating  novices.  He  had  a  suite  of  apartments  of  his  own,  called  the 
prior's  chamber,  or  the  prior's  lodging ;  he  could  leave  the  house  for  a  day 
or  two  on  the  business  of  the  house,  and  had  horses  and  servants  appro- 
priated to  his  use ;  whenever  he  entered  the  monks  present  rose  out  of 

*  Long  and  well  proportioned. 
f  She  was  of  tall  stature. 


The  Monks  of  the  Middle  Ages, 

respect ;  some  little  license  in  diet  was  allowed  him  in  refectory,  and  he 
might  also  have  refreshment  in  his  own  apartments ;  sometimes  he  enter- 
tained guests  of  a  certain  condition  in  his  prior's  chamber.  Neither  the 
prior,  nor  any  of  the  obedientiaries,  wore  any  distinctive  dress  or  badge 
of  office.     In  large  convents  he  was  assisted  by  a  sub-prior. 

The  Sub-prior  was  the  prior's  deputy,  sharing  his  duties  in  his  residence, 
and  fulfilling  them  in  his  absences.  The  especial  functions  appropriated 
to  him  seem  to  have  been  to  say  grace  at  dinner  and  supper,  to  see  that 
all  the  doors  were  locked  at  five  in  the  evening,  and  keep  the  keys  until 
five  next  morning;  and,  by  sleeping  near  the  dormitory  door,  and  by 
making  private  search,  to  prevent  wandering  about  at  night.  In  large 
monasteries  there  were  additional  sub-priors. 

The  Chantor,  or  Precentor,  appears  to  come  next  in  order  and  dignity, 
since  we  are  told  that  he  was  censed  after  the  abbot  and  prior.  He  was 
choir-master ;  taught  music  to  the  monks  and  novices ;  and  arranged  and 
ruled  everything  which  related  to  the  conduct  of  divine  service.    His  place 

in  church  was  in  the  middle  of  the  choir  on 
the  right  side  ;  he  held  an  instrument  in  his 
hand,  as  modern  leaders  use  a  baton ;  and 
his  side  of  the  choir  commenced  the  chant. 
He  was  besides  librarian,  and  keeper  of  the 
archives,  and  keeper  of  the  abbey  seal. 

He  was  assisted  by  a  Succentor,  who  sat  on 
the  left  side  of  the  choir,  and  led  that  half  of 
the  choir  in  service.  He  assisted  the  chantor, 
and  in  his  absence  undertook  his  duties. 

The  Cellarer  was  in  fact  the  steward  of  the 
house;  his  modern  representative  is  the 
bursar  of  a  college.  He  had  the  care  of 
everything  relating  to  the  provision  of  the 
food  and  vessels  of  the  convent.  He  was 
exempt  from  the  observance  of  some  of  the 
services  in  church;  he  had  the  use  of 
horses  and  servants  for  the  fulfilment  of  his  duties,  and   sometimes  he 

The  Convent,  61 

appears  to  have  had  separate  apartments.  The  cellarer,  as  we  have  said, 
wore  no  distinctive  dress  or  badge;  but  in  the  Catalogus  Benefactorum 
of  St  Alban's  there  occurs  a  portrait  of  one  "  Adam  Cellarius,"  who  for 
his  distinguished  merit  had  been  buried  among  the  abbots  in  the  chapter- 
house, and  had  his  name  and  effigy  recorded  in  the  Catalogus ;  he  is 
holding  two  keys  in  one  hand  and  a  purse  in  the  other,  the  symbols  of  his 
office ;  and  in  his  quaint  features — so  different  from  those  of  the  dignified 
abbot  whom  we  have  given  from  the  same  book — the  limner  seems  to 
have  given  us  the  type  of  a  business-like  and  not  ungenial  cellarer. 

The  Sacrist,  or  Sacristan  (whence  our  word  sexton),  had  the  care  and 
charge  of  the  fabric,  and  furniture,  and  ornaments  of  the  church,  and 
generally  of  all  the  material  appliances  of  divine  service.  He,  or  some 
one  in  his  stead,  slept  in  a  chamber  built  for  him  in  the  church,  in  order 
to  protect  it  during  the  night.  There  is  such  a  chamber  in  St.  Alban's 
Abbey  Church,  engraved  in  the  Builder  for  August,  1856.  There  was 
often  a  sub-sacrist  to  assist  the  sacrist  in  his  duties. 

The  duty  of  the  Hospitaller  was,  as  his  name  implies,  to  perform  the 
duties  of  hospitality  on  behalf  of  the  convent  The  monasteries  received 
all  travellers  to  food  and  lodging  for  a  day  and  a  night  as  of  right,  and  for 
a  longer  period  if  the  prior  saw  reason  to  grant  it*  A  special  hall  was 
provided  for  the  entertainment  of  these  guests,  and  chambers  for  their 
accommodation.  The  hospitaller  performed  the  part  of  host  on  behalf  of 
the  convent,  saw  to  the  accommodation  of  the  guests  who  belonged  to  the 
convent,  introduced  into  the  refectory  strange  priests  or  others  who  desired 
and  had  leave  to  dine  there,  and  ushered  guests  of  degree  to  the  abbot  to 
be  entertained  by  him.  He  showed  the  church  and  house  at  suitable 
times  to  guests  whose  curiosity  prompted  the  desire. 

Every  abbey  had  an  infirmary,  which  was  usually  a  detached  building 
with  its  own  kitchen  and  chapel,  besides  suitable  apartments  for  the  sick, 

•  "  And  as  touching  the  aim  esse  that  they  (the  monks)  delt,  and  the  hospitality  that 
they  kept,  every  man  knoweth  that  many  thousands  were  well  received  of  them,  and 
might  have  been  better,  if  they  had  not  so  many  great  men's  horse  to  fede,  and  had  not 

bin  overcharged  with  such  idle  gendemen  as  were  never  out  of  the  abaies  (abbeys)." A 

complaint  made  to  Parliatnent  not  long  after  the  dissolution,  quoted  in  Coke's  Institutes. 

62  The  Monks  of  the  Middle  Ages, 

and  for  aged  monks,  who  sometimes  took  up  their  permanent  residence  in 
the  infirmary,  and  were  excused  irksome  duties,  and  allowed  indulgences 
in  food  and  social  intercourse.  Not  only  the  sick  monks,  but  other  sick 
folk  were  received  into  the  infirmary ;  it  is  a  very  common  incident  in 
mediaeval  romances  to  find  a  wounded  knight  carried  to  a  neighbouring 
monastery  to  be  healed.  The  officer  who  had  charge  of  everything 
relating  to  this  department  was  styled  the  Infirmarer.  He  slept  in  the 
infirmary,  was  excused  from  some  of  the  "hours;"  in  the  great  houses  had 
two  brethren  to  assist  him  besides  the  necessary  servants,  and  often  a 
clerk  learned  in  pharmacy  as  physician. 

The  Almoner  had  charge  of  the  distribution  of  the  alms  of  the  house. 
Sometimes  money  was  left  by  benefactors  to  be  distributed  to  the  poor 
annually  at  their  obits ;  the  distribution  of  this  was  confided  to  the 
almoner.  One  of  his  men  attended  in  the  abbot's  chamber  when  he  had 
guests,  to  receive  what  alms  they  chose  to  give  to  the  poor.  Moneys 
belonging  to  the  convent  were  also  devoted  to  this  purpose  ;  besides  food 
and  drink,  the  surplus  of  the  convent  meals.  He  had  assistants  allowed 
him  to  go  and  visit  the  sick  and  infirm  folk  of  the  neighbourhood.  And  at 
Christmas  he  provided  cloth  and  shoes  for  widows,  orphans,  poor  clerks, 
and  others  whom  he  thought  to  need  it  most. 

The  Master  of  the  Novices  was  a  grave  and  learned  monk,  who  superin- 
tended the  education  of  the  youths  in  the  schools  of  the  abbey,  and 
taught  the  rule  to  those  who  were  candidates  for  the  monastic  profession. 

The  Porter  was  an  officer  of  some  importance ;  he  was  chosen  for  his 
age  and  gravity;  he  had  an  apartment  in  the  gate  lodge,  an  assistant,  and  a 
lad  to  run  on  his  messages.  But  sometimes  the  porter  seems  to  have  been 
a  layman.  And,  in  small  houses  and  in  nunneries,  his  office  involved  other 
duties,  which  we  have  seen  in  great  abbeys  distributed  among  a  number  of 
officials.  Thus,  in  Marie's  "  Lay  le  Fraine,"  we  read  of  the  porter  of  an 
abbey  of  nuns  : — 

"  The  porter  of  the  abbey  arose, 
And  did  his  office  in  the  close ; 
Rung  the  bells,  and  tapers  light, 
Laid  forth  books  and  all  ready  dighL 
The  church  door  he  undid,"  &c; 

The  Convent. 


and  in  the  sequel  it  appears  that  he  had  a  daughter,  and  therefore  in  all 
probability  was  a  layman. 

The  Kitchener,  or  Cook,  was  usually  a  monk,  and,  as  his  name  implies, 
he  ruled  in  the  kitchen,  went  to  market,  provided  the  meals  of  the 
house,  &c. 

The  Seneschal  in  great  abbeys  was  often  a  layman  of  rank,  who  did 
the  secular  business  which  the  tenure  of  large  estates,  and  consequently 
of  secular  offices,  devolved  upon  abbots  and  convents;  such  as  hold- 
ing manorial  courts,  and  the  like.  But  there  was,  Fosbroke  tells  us, 
another  officer   with   the   same   name,  but  of  inferior  dignity,  who  did 

Alan  Middleton. 

convent  business  of  the  prior  and  cellarer  which  was  to  be  done  out 
)f  the  house ;  and,  when  at  home,  carried  a  rod  and  acted  as  marshal 
)f  the  guest-hall.     He  had  horses  and  servants  allowed  for  the  duties  of 

office ;  and  at  the  Benedictine  Abbey  of  Winchcombe  he  had  a  robe 
of  clerk's  cloth  once  a  year,  with  lamb's  fur  for  a  supertunic,  and  foi 
a  hood  of  budge  fur ;  he  had  the  same  commons  in  hall  as  the  cellarer, 
and  £2  every  year  at  Michaelmas.     Probably  an  officer  of  this  kind  was 

r  Middleton,  who  is  recorded  in  the   Catalogus  of  St.  Alban's  as 


The  Monks  of  the  Middle  Ages. 

'collector  of  rents  of  the  obedientiaries  of  that  monastery,  and  especially 
of  those  of  the  bursar."  Prudenter  in  omnibus  se  agebat,  and  so,  deserving 
(veil  of  the  house,  they  put  a  portrait  of  him  among  their  benefactors, 
clothed  in  a  blue  robe,  of  "  clerk's  cloth"  perhaps,  furred  at  the  wrists  and 
throat  with  "  lamb's  fur"  or  "  budge  fur ;"  a  small  tonsure  shows  that  he  had 
taken  some  minor  order,  the  penner  and  inkhorn  at  his  girdle  denote  the 
nature  of  his  office  ;  and  he  is  just  opening  the  door  of  one  of  the  abbey 
tenants  to  perform  his  unwelcome  function.  They  were  grateful  men,  these 
Benedictines  of  St.  Alban's ;  they  have  immortalised  another  of  their  inferior 


O      o       o      o  ^ 

J[ O      o 

o      o 

°     o 



^w|  /  -u\ 




LI  i[ 

p     ° 





1      ° 

^     0 








o       o        r->        G 

o          o       < 

>      o      o       0 

Walter  of    Hamuntesham    attacked  by   a  Mob. 

officers,  Walterus  de  Hamuntesham,  fidelis  minister  hujus  ecclesice,  because 
on  one  occasion  he  received  a  beating  at  the  hands  of  the  rabble  of  St. 
Alban's — inter  vittanos  Set  Albani — while  standing  up  for  the  rights  and 
liberties  of  the  church. 

Next  in  dignity  after  the  obedientiaries  come  the  Cloister  Monks ;  of 
these  some  had  received  holy  orders  at  the  hands  of  the  bishop,  some  not. 
Their  number  was  limited.  A  cloister  monk  in  a  rich  abbey  seems  to  have 
been  something  like  in  dignity  to  the  fellow  of  a  modern  college,  and  a 

The  Convent.  65 

good  deal  of  interest  was  sometimes  employed  to  obtain  the  admission  of 
a  youth  as  a  novice,  with  a  view  to  his  ultimately  arriving  at  this  dignified 
degree.  Next  in  order  come  the  Professed  Brethren.  These  seem  to  be 
monks  who  had  not  been  elected  to  the  dignity  of  cloister  monks ;  some 
of  them  were  admitted  late  in  life.  Those  monks  who  had  been  brought 
up  in  the  house  were  called  nutriti,  those  who  came  later  in  life  conversi ; 
the  lay  brothers  were  also  sometimes  called  conversi.  There  were  again 
the  Novices,  who  were  not  all  necessarily  young,  for  a  conversus  passed 
through  a  noviciate ;  and  even  a  monk  of  another  order,  or  of  another 
house  of  their  own  order,  and  even  a  monk  from  a  cell  of  their  own  house, 
was  reckoned  among  the  novices.  There  were  also  the  Chaplains  of  the 
abbot  and  other  high  officials ;  and  frequently  there  were  other  clerics 
living  in  the  monastery,  who  served  the  chantries  in  the  abbey  church,  and 
the  churches  and  chapels  which  belonged  to  the  monastery  and  were  in  its 
neighbourhood.  Again,  there  were  the  Artificers  and  Servants  of  the 
monastery :  millers,  bakers,  tailors,  shoemakers,  smiths,  and  similar  arti- 
ficers, were  often  a  part  of  a  monastic  establishment.  And  there  were 
numerous  men-servants,  grooms,  and  the  like :  these  were  all  under 
certain  vows,  and  were  kept  under  discipline.  In  the  Cistercian  abbey 
of  Waverley  there  were  in  1187  a.d.  seventy  monks  and  one  hundred  and 
twenty  conversi,  besides  priests,  clerks,  servants,  &c.  In  the  great  Bene- 
dictine abbey  of  St.  Edmund's  Bury,  in  the  time  of  Edward  I.,  there 
were  eighty  monks ;  fifteen  chaplains  attendant  on  the  abbot  and  chief 
officers ;  about  one  hundred  and  eleven  servants  in  the  various  offices, 
chiefly  residing  within  the  walls  of  the  monastery;  forty  priests,  offici- 
ating in  the  several  chapels,  chantries,  and  monastic  appendages  in  the 
town ;  and  an  indefinite  number  of  professed  brethren.  The  following  notes 
will  give  an  idea  of  the  occupations  of  the  servants.  In  the  time  of 
William  Rufus  the  servants  at  Evesham  numbered — five  in  the  church, 
two  in  the  infirmary,  two  in  the  cellar,  five  in  the  kitchen,  seven  in 
the  bakehouse,  four  brewers,  four  menders,  two  in  the  bath,  two  shoe- 
makers, two  in  the  orchard,  three  gardeners,  one  at  the  cloister  gate,  two 
at  the  great  gate,  five  at  the  vineyard,  four  who  served  the  monks  when 
they  went  out,  four  fishermen,  four  in  the  abbot's  chamber,  three  in  the 


66  The  Monks  of  the  Middle  Ages. 

hall.  At  Salley  Abbey,  at  the  end  of  the  fourteenth  century,  there  were 
about  thirty-five  servants,  among  whom  are  mentioned  the  shoemaker  and 
barber,  the  prior's  chamberlain,  the  abbot's  cook,  the  convent  cook  and 
baker's  mate,  the  baker,  brewers,  tailor,  cowherd,  waggoners,  pages  of  the 
kitchen,  poultry-keeper,  labourers,  a  keeper  of  animals  and  birds,  bailiffs, 
foresters,  shepherds,  smiths  :  there  are  others  mentioned  by  name,  without 
a  note  of  their  office.  But  it  was  only  a  few  of  the  larger  houses 
which  had  such  numerous  establishments  as  these ;  the  majority  of  the 
monasteries  contained  from  five  to  twenty  cloister  monks.  Some  of  the 
monasteries  were  famous  as  places  of  education,  and  we  must  add  to  their 
establishment  a  number  of  children  of  good  family,  and  the  learned  clerks 
or  ladies  who  acted  as  tutors ;  thus  the  abbey  of  St.  Mary,  Winchester,  in 
1536,  contained  twenty-six  nuns,  five  priests,  thirteen  lay  sisters,  thirty-two 
officers  and  servants,  and  twenty-six  children,  daughters  of  lords  and 
knights,  who  were  brought  up  in  the  house. 

Lastly,  there  were  a  number  of  persons  of  all  ranks  and  conditions  who 
were  admitted  to  "  fraternity."  Among  the  Hospitallers  (and  probably  it 
was  the  same  with  the  other  orders)  they  took  oath  to  love  the  house  and 
brethren,  to  defend  the  house  from  ill-doers,  to  enter  that  house  if  they 
did  enter  any,  and  to  make  an  annual  present  to  the  house.  In  return, 
they  were  enrolled  in  the  register  of  the  house,  they  received  the  prayers 
of  the  brethren,  and  at  death  were  buried  in  the  cemetery.  Chaucer's 
Dominican  friar  (p.  48),  writes  the  names  of  those  who  gave  him  donations 
in  his  "  tables."  In  the  following  extract  from  Piers  Ploughman's  Creed, 
an  Austin  friar  promises  more  definitely  to  have  his  donors  enrolled  in  the 
fraternity  of  his  house  : — 

"  And  gyf  thou  hast  any  good, 
And  will  thyself  helpen, 
Help  us  herblich  therewith. 
And  here  I  undertake, 
Thou  shalt  ben  brother  of  oure  hous, 
And  a  book  habben, 
At  the  next  chapetre, 
Clerliche  enseled. 
And  then  our  provincial 
Kath  power  to  assoylen 

Tne  Convent. 


Alle  sustren  and  brethren 
That  beth  of  our  ordre." 

Piers  Ploughman's  Creed,  p.  645. 

the  book  of  St.  Alban's,  which  we  have  before  quoted,  there  is  a  list  of 

lany  persons,  knights  and  merchants,  ladies   and   children,  vicars  and 

actors,  received  ad  fraternitatem  hujus  monasterii.     In  many  cases  por- 

lits  of  them  are  given :  they  are  in  the  ordinary  costume  of  their  time 

id  class,  without  any  badge  of  their  monastic  fraternisation. 

Chaucer  gives  several  sketches  which  enable  us  to  fill  out  our  realisation 

}f  the  monks,  as  they  appeared  outside  the  cloister  associating  with  their 

-men.    He  includes  one  among  the  merry  company  of  his  Canterbury 

is ;  and  first  in  the  Monk's  Prologue,  makes  the  Host  address  the 

>nk  thus  : — ■ 

"  '  My  lord,  the  monk,'  quod  he    ...    « 
'  By  my  trothe  I  can  not  tell  youre  name, 
Whether  shall  I  call  you  my  Lord  Dan  Jobs, 
Or  Dan  Thomas,  or  elles  Dan  Albon  ? 
Of  what  house  be  ye  by  your  father  kin  ? 
I  vow  to  God  thou  hast  a  full  fair  skin ; 
It  is  a  gentle  pasture  ther  thou  goest, 
Thou  art  not  like  a  penaunt*  or  a  ghost. 
Upon  my  faith  thou  art  some  officer, 
°ome  worthy  sextem  or  some  celerer. 
For  by  my  father's  soul,  as  to  my  dome, 
Thou  art  a  maister  when  thou  art  at  home ; 
No  poure  cloisterer,  ne  non  novice, 
But  a  governor  both  ware  and  wise.'  " 

Chaucer  himself  describes  the  same  monk  in  his  Prologue  thus  :— 

"  A  monk  there  was,  a  fayre  for  the  maisterie, 
An  out-rider  that  lovered  venerie,t 
A  manly  man  to  be  an  abbot  able. 
Ful  many  a  dainty  horse  had  he  in  stable ; 
And  when  he  rode  men  might  his  bridle  hear 
Gingling  in  a  whistling  wind  as  clear, 
And  eke  as  loud  as  doth  the  chapel  bell, 
Whereas  this  lord  was  keeper  of  the  cell. 
The  rule  of  Saint  Maur  and  of  Saint  Benet, 
Because  that  it  was  old  and  somedeal  strait, 

•  A  person  doing  penance. 

t  Hunting. 

68  The  Monks  of  the  Middle  Ages. 

This  illce  monk  let  olde  thinges  pace, 

And  held  after  the  newe  world  the  trace. 

He  gave  not  of  the  text  a  pulled  hen, 

That  saith,  that  hunters  been  not  holy  men  ; 

Ne  that  a  monk,  when  he  is  regneless,* 

Is  like  a  fish  that  is  waterless ; 

That  is  to  say,  a  monk  out  of  his  cloister: 

This  ilke  text  he  held  not  worth  an  oyster. 

And  I  say  his  pinion  was  good. 

Why  should  he  study,  and  make  himselven  wood, 

Upon  a  book  in  cloister  alway  to  pore, 

Or  swinkin  with  his  handis,  and  labour, 

As  Austin  bid  ?    How  shall  the  world  be  served  ? 

Therefore  he  was  a  prickasoure  aright : 

Greyhounds  he  had  as  swift  as  fowls  of  flight ; 

Of  pricking  and  of  hunting  for  the  hare 

Was  all  his  lust,  for  no  cost  would  he  spare. 

I  saw  his  sleeves  purfled  at  the  hand 

With  gris,  and  that  the  finest  of  the  land. 

And  for  to  fasten  his  hood  under  his  chin 

He  had  of  gold  y-wrought  a  curious  pin  : 

A  love-knot  in  the  greater  end  there  was. 

*  *  *  * 

His  bootis  Bupple,  his  horse  in  great  estate ; 
Now  certainly  he  was  a  fair  prelate." 

Again,  in  the  "  Shipman's  Tale  "  we  learn  that  such  an  officer  had  con- 
siderable freedom,  so  that  he  was  able  to  pay  very  frequent  visits  to  his 
friends.     The  whole  passage  is  worth  giving : — 

"  A  marchant  whilom  dwelled  at  St.  Denise, 
That  riche  was,  for  which  men  held  him  wise. 

•  *  *  * 

This  noble  marchant  held  a  worthy  house, 
For  which  he  had  all  day  so  great  repair 
For  his  largesse,  and  for  his  wife  was  fair. 
What  wonder  is  ?  but  hearken  to  my  tale. 
Amonges  all  these  guestes  great  and  small 
There  was  a  monk,  a  fair  man  and  a  bold, 
I  trow  a  thirty  winters  he  was  old, 
That  ever  anon  was  drawing  to  that  place. 
This  younge  monk  that  was  so  fair  of  face, 

*  Without  state. 

The  Convent.  69 

Acquainted  was  so  with  this  good6  man, 
Sithen  that  their  firste  knowledge  began, 
That  in  his  house  as  familiar  was  he 
As  it  possible  is  any  friend  to  be. 
And  for  as  mochel  as  this  good6  man, 
And  eke  this  monk,  of  which  that  I  begaa, 
Were  bothe"  two  y-born  in  one  village, 
The  monk  him  claimeth  as  for  cosinage  ; 
And  he  again  him  said  not  ones  nay, 
But  was  as  glad  thereof,  as  fowl  of  day ; 
For  to  his  heart  it  was  a  great  plesaunce  ; 
Thus  ben  they  knit  with  eteme  alliance, 
And  eche  of  them  gan  other  for  to  ensure 
Of  brotherhood,  while  that  life  may  endure." 

Notwithstanding  his  vow  of  poverty,  he  was  also  able  to  make  presents 
to  his  friends,  for  the  tale  continues  : — 

*'  Free  was  Dan  John,  and  namely  of  despence 
As  in  that  house,  and  full  of  diligence 
To  don  plesaunce,  and  also  great  costage ; 
He  not  forgat  to  give  the  leaste  page 
In  all  that  house,  but,  after  their  degree, 
He  gave  the  lord,  and  sithen  his  mennie, 
When  that  he  came,  some  manner  honest  thing  ; 
For  which  they  were  as  glad  of  his  coming 
As  fowl  is  fain  when  that  the  sun  upriseth." 

Chaucer  does  not  forget  to  let  us  know  how  it  was  that  this  monk  came 
to  have  such  liberty  and  such  command  of  means  : — 

"  This  noble  monk,  of  which  I  you  devise, 
Hath  of  his  abbot,  as  him  list,  licence 
(Because  he  was  a  man  of  high  prudence, 
And  eke  an  officer),  out  for  to  ride 
To  see  their  granges  and  their  barnes  wiae." 



E  proceed  next  to  give  some  account  of  the  buildings  which  com- 
pose the  fabric  of  a  monastery.  And  first  as  to  the  site.  The 
orders  of  the  Benedictine  family  preferred  sites  as  secluded  and 
remote  from  towns  and  villages  as  possible.  The  Augustinian  orders  did 
not  cultivate  seclusion  so  strictly ;  their  houses  are  not  unfrequently  near 
towns  and  villages,  and  sometimes  a  portion  of  their  conventual  church — the 
nave,  generally — formed  the  parish  church.  The  Friaries,  Colleges  of  secular 
canons,  and  Hospitals,  were  generally  in  or  near  the  towns.  There  is  a 
popular  idea  that  the  monks  chose  out  the  most  beautiful  and  fertile  spots 
in  the  kingdom  for  their  abodes.  A  little  reflection  would  show  that  the 
choice  of  the  site  of  a  new  monastery  must  be  confined  within  the  limits  of 
the  lands  which  the  founder  was  pleased  to  bestow  upon  the  convent. 
Sometimes  the  founder  gave  a  good  manor,  and  gave  money  besides,  to  help 
to  build  the  house  upon  it ;  sometimes  what  was  given  was  a  tract  of  unre- 
claimed land,  upon  which  the  first  handful  of  monks  squatted  like  settlers  in  a 
new  country.  Even  the  settled  land,  in  those  days,  was  only  half  cultivated ; 
and  on  good  land,  unreclaimed  or  only  half  reclaimed,  the  skill  and  energy 
of  a  company  of  first-rate  farmers  would  soon  produce  great  results  ;  barren 
commons  would  be  dotted  over  with  sheep,  and  rushy  valleys  would 
become  rich  pastures  covered  with  cattle,  and  great  clearings  in  the  forest 
would  grow  green  with  rye  and  barley.  The  revenues  of  the  monastic 
estates  would  rapidly  augment;  little  of  them  would  be  required  for 
the  coarse  dress  and  frugal  fare  of  the  monks  ;  they  did  not,  like  the  lay 
landowners,  spend  them  on  gilded  armour  and  jewelled  robes,  and  troops 

The  Monastery.  71 

of  armed  retainers,  and  tournaments,  and  journeys  to  court;  and  so  they 
had  enough  for  plentiful  charity  and  unrestricted  hospitality,  and  the  sur- 
plus they  spent  upon  those  magnificent  buildings  whose  very  ruins  are 
among  the  architectural  glories  of  the  land.  The  Cistercians  had  an  espe- 
cial rule  that  their  houses  should  be  built  on  the  lowest  possible  sites,  in 
token  of  humility ;  but  it  was  the  general  custom  in  the  Middle  Ages  to 
choose  low  and  sheltered  sites  for  houses  which  were  not  especially 
intended  as  strongholds,  and  therefore  it  is  that  we  find  nearly  all  monas- 
teries in  sheltered  spots.  To  the  monks  the  neighbourhood  of  a  stream 
was  of  especial  importance :  when  headed  up  it  supplied  a  pond  for  their 
fish,  and  water-power  for  their  corn-mill.  If,  therefore,  there  were  within 
the  limits  of  their  domain  a  quiet  valley  with  a  rivulet  running  through  it, 
that  was  the  site  which  the  monks  would  select  for  their  house.  And  here, 
beside  the  rivulet,  in  the  midst  of  the  green  pasture  land  of  the  valley 
dotted  with  sheep  and  kine,  shut  in  from  the  world  by  the  hills,  whose 
tops  were  fringed  with  the  forest  which  stretched  for  miles  around,  the 
stately  buildings  of  the  monastery  would  rise  year  after  year ;  the  cloister 
court,  and  the  great  church,  and  the  abbot's  lodge,  and  the  numerous 
offices,  all  surrounded  by  a  stone  wall  with  a  stately  gate-tower,  like  a 
goodly  walled  town,  and  a  suburban  hamlet  of  labourers'  and  servants' 
cottages  sheltering  beneath  its  walls. 

There  was  a  certain  plan  for  the  arrangement  of  the  principal  buildings 
of  a  monastery,  which,  with  minor  variations,  was  followed  by  nearly 
all  the  monastic  orders,  except  the  Carthusians.  These  latter  differed 
from  the  other  orders  in  this,  that  each  monk  had  his  separate  cell,  in 
which  he  lived,  and  ate,  and  slept  apart  from  the  rest,  the  whole  commu- 
nity meeting  only  in  church  and  chapter.*  Our  limits  will  not  permit  us 
to  enter  into  exceptional  arrangements. 

*  A  plan  of  the  Chartreuse  of  Clermont  is  given  by  Viollet  le  Due  (Diet,  of  Architec., 
vol.  i.  pp.  308,  309),  and  the  arrangements  of  a  Carthusian  monastery  were  nearly  the  same 
in  all  parts  of  Europe.  It  consists  of  a  cloister-court  surrounded  by  about  twenty  square 
enclosures.  Each  enclosure,  technically  called  a  "  cell,"  is  in  fact  a  little  house  and 
garden,  the  little  house  is  in  a  corner  of  the  enclosure,  and  consists  of  three  apartments. 
In  the  middle  of  the  west  side  of  the  cloister-court  is  the  oratory,  whose  five-sided  apsidal 
sanctuary  projects  into  the  court.    In  a  small  outer  court  on  the  west  is  the  prior's 

72  The  Monks  of  the  Middle  Ages. 

The  nucleus  of  a  monastery  was  the  cloister  court.  It  was  a  quadran- 
gular space  of  green  sward,  around  which  were  arranged  the  cloister  build- 
ings, viz.,  the  church,  the  chapter-house,  the  refectory,  and  the  dormitory.* 
The  court  was  called  the  Paradise — the  blessed  garden  in  which  the 
inmates  passed  their  lives  of  holy  peace.  A  porter  was  often  placed  at 
the  cloister-gate,  and  the  monks  might  not  quit  its  seclusion,  nor  strangers 
enter  to  disturb  its  quiet,  save  under  exceptional  circumstances. 

The  cloister-court  had  generally,  though  it  is  doubtful  whether  it  was 
always  the  case,  a  covered  ambulatory  round  its  four  sides.  The  ambula- 
tories of  the  twelfth  and  thirteenth  centuries  have  usually  an  open  arcade 
on  the  side  facing  the  court,  which  supports  the  groined  roof.  In  the 
fourteenth  and  fifteenth  centuries,  instead  of  an  open  arcade,  we  usually 
find  a  series  of  large  traceried  windows,  tolerably  close  together ;  in  many 
cases  they  were  glazed,  sometimes  with  painted  glass,  and  formed  doubt- 
less a  grand  series  of  scriptural  or  historical  paintings.  The  blank  wall 
opposite  was  also  sometimes  painted.  This  covered  ambulatory  was  not 
merely  a  promenade  for  the  monks ;  it  was  the  place  in  which  the  convent 
assembled  regularly  every  day,  at  certain  hours,  for  study  and  meditation ; 
and  in  some  instances  (eg.,  at  Durham)  a  portion  of  it  was  fitted  up  with 
little  wooden  closets  for  studies  for  the  elder  monks,  with  book-cupboards 
in  the  wall  opposite  for  books.  The  monks  were  sometimes  buried  in 
the  cloister,  either  under  the  turf  in  the  open  square,  or  beneath  the  pave- 
ment of  the  ambulatory.  There  was  sometimes  a  fountain  at  the  corner  of 
the  cloister,  or  on  its  south  side  near  the  entrance  to  the  refectory,  at 
which  the  monks  washed  before  meals. 

lodgings,  which  is  a  "cell  "like  the  others,  and  a  building  for  the  entertainment  of 
guests.  See  also  a  paper  on  the  Carthusian  priory  of  Mount  Grace,  near  Thirsk,  read 
by  Archdeacon  Churton  before  the  Yorkshire  Architectural  Society,  in  the  year  1850. 

*  A  bird's-eye  view  of  Citeaux,  given  in  Viollet  le  Due's  "  Dictionary  of  Architecture," 
vol.  i.  p.  271,  will  give  a  very  good  notion  of  a  thirteenth-century  monastery.  Of  the 
English  monasteries  Fountains  was  perhaps  one  of  the  finest,  and  its  existing  remains  are 
the  most  extensive  of  any  which  are  left  in  England.  A  plan  of  it  will  be  found  in  Mr. 
"Walbran's  "  Guide  to  Ripon."  See  also  plan  of  Furness,  Journal  of  the  Archaological 
A  ■isociation,  vi.  309 ;  of  Newstead  (an  Augustinian  house),  ibid.  ix.  p.  30 ;  and  of  Durham 
(Benedictine),  ibid.  xxii.  201. 

The  Minster  Church.  73 

The  church  was  always  the  principal  building  of  a  monastery.  Many  of 
them  remain  entire,  though  despoiled  of  their  shrines,  and  tombs,  and  altars, 
and  costly  furniture,  and  many  more  remain  in  ruins,  and  they  fill  us  with 
astonishment  at  their  magnitude  and  splendour.  Our  existing  cathedrals 
were,  in  fact,  abbey  churches ;  nine  or  ten  of  them  were  the  churches  of 
Benedictine  monasteries,  the  remainder  of  secular  Augustines.  But  these, 
the  reader  may  imagine,  had  the  wealth  of  bishops  and  the  offerings  of 
dioceses  lavished  upon  them,  and  may  not  be  therefore  fair  examples  of 
ordinary  abbey  churches.  But  some  of  them  originally  were  ordinary 
abbey  churches,  and  were  subsequently  made  Episcopal  sees,  such  as 
Beverley,  Gloucester,  Christ  Church  Oxford,  and  Peterborough,  which 
were  originally  Benedictine  abbey  churches  ;  Bristol  was  the  church  of 
a  house  of  regular  canons ;  Ripon  was  the  church  of  a  college  of  secular 
canons.  The  Benedictine  churches  of  Westminster  and  St.  Alban's,  and 
the  collegiate  church  of  Southwell,  are  equal  in  magnitude  and  splendour 
to  any  of  the  cathedrals ;  and  the  ruins  of  Fountains,  and  Tintem,  and 
Netley,  show  that  the  Cistercians  equalled  any  of  the  other  orders  in  the 
magnitude  and  beauty  of  their  churches. 

It  is  indeed  hard  to  conceive  that  communities  of  a  score  or  two  of 
monks  should  have  built  such  edifices  as  Westminster  and  Southwell  as 
private  chapels  attached  to  their  monasteries.  And  this,  though  it  is  one 
aspect  of  the  fact,  is  not  the  true  one.  They  did  not  build  them  for 
private  chapels  to  say  their  daily  prayers  in ;  they  built  them  for  temples 
in  which  they  believed  that  the  Eternal  and  Almighty  condescended  to 
dwell;  to  whose  contemplation  and  worship  they  devoted  their  lives. 
They  did  not  think  of  the  church  as  an  appendage  to  their  monastery, 
but  of  their  monastery  as  an  appendage  to  the  church.  The  cloister, 
under  the  shadow  and  protection  of  the  church,  was  the  court  of  the 
Temple,  in  which  its  priests  and  Levites  dwelt. 

The  church  of  a  monastery  was  almost  always  a  cross  church,  with 
a  nave  and  aisles;  a  central  tower  (in  Cistercian  churches  the  tower 
was  only  to  rise  one  story  above  the  roof) ;  transepts,  which  usually  have 
three  chapels  on  the  north  side  of  each  transept,  or  an  aisle  divided  into 
three  chapels  by  parclose   screens ;    a  choir  with  or  without   aisles ;  a 


The  Monks  of  the  Middle  Ages, 

retro-choir  or  presbytery ;  and  often  a  Lady  chapel,  east  of  the  presbytery, 
or  in  some  instances  parallel  with  the  choir. 

The  entrance  for  the  monks  was  usually  on  the  south  side  opposite  to  the 
eastern  alley  of  the  cloisters ;  there  was  also  in  Cistercian  churches,  and  in 
some  others,  a  newel  stair  in  the  south  transept,  by  means  of  which  ike  monks 
could  descend  from  their  dormitory  (which  was  in  the  upper  story  of  the 
east  side  of  the  cloister  court)  into  the  church  for  the  night  services,  without 
going  into  the  open  air.  The  principal  entrance  for  the  laity  was  on  the 
north  side,  and  was  usually  provided  with  a  porch.     The  great  western 

A  Semi-choir  of  Franciscan  Friars. 
entrance  was  chiefly  used  for  processions ;  the  great  entrance  gate  in  the 
enclosure  wall  of  the  abbey  being  usually  opposite  to  it  or  nearly  so.  In 
several  instances  stones  have  been  found,  set  in  the  pavements  of  the 
naves  of  conventual  churches,  to  mark  the  places  where  the  different 
members  of  the  convent  were  to  stand  before  they  issued  forth  in  pro- 
cession, amidst  the  tolling  of  the  great  bell,  with  cross  and  banner,  and 
chanted  psalms,  to  meet  the  abbot  at  the  abbey-gate,  on  his  return  from 
an  absence,  or  any  person  to  whom  it  was  fitting  that  the  convent  should 
show  such  honour. 

The  Minster  Church, 


The  internal  arrangements  of  an  abbey-church  were  very  nearly  like 
those  of  our  cathedrals.  The  convent  occupied  the  stalls  in  the  choir; 
the  place  of  the  abbot  was  in  the  first  stall  on  the  right-hand  (south)  side 
to  one  entering  from  the  west — it  is  still  appropriated  to  the  dean  in  cathe- 
drals; in  the  corresponding  stall  on  the  other  side  sat  the  prior;  the 
precentor  sat  in  the  middle  stall  on  the  right  or  south  side  ;  the  succentor 
in  the  middle  stall  on  the  north  side. 

The  beautiful  little  picture  of  a  semi-choir  of  Franciscan  friars  on  the 
opposite  page  is  from  a  fourteenth -century  psalter  in  the  British  Museum 
(Domitian,  A.  17).     It  is  from  a  large  picture,  which  gives  a  beautiful 

A  Semi-choir  of  Minor  esses. 

representation  of  the  interior  of  the  choir  of  the  church.  The  picture 
is  worth  careful  examination  for  the  costume  of  the  friars — grey  frock 
and  cowl,  with  knotted  cord  girdle  and  sandalled  feet;  some  wearing 
the  hood  drawn  over  the  head,  some  leaving  it  thrown  back  on  the  neck 
and  shoulders;  one  with  his  hands  folded  under  his  sleeves  like  the 
Cistercians  at  p.  17.  The  precentor  may  be  easily  distinguished  in  the 
middle  stall  beating  time,  with  an  air  of  leadership.  There  is  much  character 
in  all  the  faces  and  attitudes — e.g.,  in  the  withered  old  face  on  the  left,  with 
his  cowl  pulled  over  his  ears  to  keep  off  the  draughts,  or  the  one  on  the 

76  The  Monks  of  the  Middle  Ages, 

precentor's  left,  a  rather  burly  friar,  evidently  singing  bass.*  On  the  next 
page  is  an  engraving  from  the  same  MS.  of  a  similar  semi-choir  of 
minoresses,  which  also  is  only  a  portion  of  a  large  church  interior. 

When  there  was  a  shrine  of  a  noted  saintf  it  was  placed  in  the  presby- 
tery, behind  the  high-altar ;  and  here,  and  in  the  choir  aisles,  were  fre- 
quently placed  the  monuments  of  the  abbots,  and  of  founders  and  distin 
guished  benefactors  of  the  house ;  sometimes  heads  of  the  house  and 
founders  were  buried  in  the  chapter-house. 

It  would  require  a  more  elaborate  description  than  our  plan  will  admit 
to  endeavour  to  bring  before  the  mind's-eye  of  the  reader  one  of  these  abbey 
churches  before  its  spoliation  ; — when  the  sculptures  were  unmutilated  and 
the  paintings  fresh,  and  the  windows  filled  with  their  stained  glass,  and 
the  choir  hung  with  hangings,  and  banners  and  tapestries  waved  from 
the  arches  of  the  triforium,  and  the  altar  shone  gloriously  with  jewelled 
plate,  and  the  monuments^  of  abbots  and  nobles  were  still  perfect,  and  the 
wax  tapers  burned  night  and  day§  in  the  hearses,  throwing  a  flickering  light 
on  the  solemn  effigies  below,  and  glancing  upon  the  tarnished  armour  and 

*  A  double  choir  of  the  fifteenth  century  is  in  King  Renews  Book  of  Hours  (Egerton, 
1,070),  at  folio  54.  Another  semi-choir  of  Religious  of  late  fifteenth  and  early  sixteenth 
century  date,  very  well  drawn,  may  be  found  in  Egerton,  2,125,  *•  II7>  v- 

t  Lydgate's  Life  of  St.  Edmund,  a  MS.  executed  in  1473  A.D.,  preserved  in  the  British 
Museum  (Harl.  2,278),  gives  several  very  good  representations  of  the  shrine  of  that  saint 
at  St.  Edmund's  Bury,  with  the  attendant  monks,  pilgrims  worshipping,  &c. 

t  "  Tombes  upon  tabernacles,  tiled  aloft, 

*  *  »  * 

Made  of  marble  in  many  manner  wise, 
Knights  in  their  conisantes  clad  for  the  nonce, 
All  it  seemed  saints  y-sacred  upon  earth, 
And  lovely  ladies  y-wrought  lyen  by  their  side? 
In  many  gay  garments  that  were  gold-beaten." 

Fiers  Ploughman's  Creed. 

$  Henry  VII.  agreed  with  the  Abbot  and  Convent  of  Westminster  that  there  should 
be  four  tapers  burning  continually  at  his  tomb — two  at  the  sides,  and  two  at  the  ends, 
each  eleven  feet  long,  and  twelve  pounds  n  weight;  thirty  tapers,  &c,  in  the  hearse; 
and  four  torches  to  be  held  about  it  at  his  weekly  obit ;  and  one  hundred  tapers  nine  feet 
long,  and  twenty-four  torches  of  twice  the  weight,  to  be  lighted  at  his  anniversary. 

The  Chapter-house. 


ie  dusty  banners  *  which  hung  over  the  tombs,  while  the  cowled  monks 
in  their  stalls  and  prayed.  Or  when,  on  some  high  festival,  the  convent 
ted  round  the  lofty  aisles  in  procession,  two  and  two,  clad  in  rich 
jpes  over  their  coarse  frocks,  preceded  by  cross  and  banner,  with 
inging  censers  pouring  forth  clouds  of  incense,  while  one  of  those 
lgelic  boy's  voices  which  we  still  sometimes  hear  in  cathedrals  chanted 
ie  solemn  litany — the  pure  sweet  ringing  voice  floating  along  the  vaulted 
»les,  until  it  was  lost  in  the  swell  of  the  chorus  of  the  whole  procession — 
ra  I  Or  a  I  Or  a  !  pro  nobis  ! 

The  Cloister  was  usually  situated  on  the  south  side  of  the  nave  of  the 

lurch,  so  that  the  nave  formed  its  north  side,  and  the  south  transept  a 

of  its  eastern  side ;  but  sometimes,  from  reasons  of  local  convenience, 

ie  cloister  was  on  the  north  side  of  the  nave,  and  then  the  relative 

>sitions  of  the  other  buildings  were  similarly  transposed. 

The  Chapter-house  was  always  on  the   east   side   of  the   court.      In 

stablishments  of  secular  canons  it  seems  to  have  been  always  multi- 

ided  f  with  a  central  pillar  to  support  its  groining,  and  a  lofty,  conical, 

lead-covered  roof.      In  these  instances  it  is  placed   in  the  open  space 

atward  of  the  cloister,  and  is  usually  approached  by  a  passage  from  the 

5t  side  of  the  cloister  court.     In  the  houses  of  all  the  other  orders  %  the 

lapter-  house   is    rectangular,   even   where   the    church  is   a  cathedral. 

Jsually,  then,  the  chapter-house  is  a  rectangular  building  on  the  east  side 

the  cloister,  and  its  longest  axis  is  east  and  west ;  at  Durham  it  has  an 

•  "  lror  though  a  man  in  their  mynster  a  masse  wolde  heren, 
His  sight  shal  so  be  set  on  sundrye  werkes, 
The  penons  and  the  pomels  and  poyntes  of  sheldes 
Withdrawen  his  devotion  and  dusken  his  heart." 

Piers  Ploughman's  Vision. 

t  The  chapter-houses  attached  to  the  cathedrals  of  York,  Salisbury,  and  Wells,  are 

:tagonal ;  those  of  Hereford  and  Lincoln,  decagonal ;  Lichfield,  polygonal ;  Worcester 

circular.     All  these  were  built  by  secular  canons. 

%  There  are  only  two  exceptions  hitherto  observed  :  that  of  the  Benedictine  Abbey  of 
Westminster,  which  is  polygonal,  and  that  of  Thornton  Abbey,  of  regular  canons,  which 
is  octagonal. 


The  Monks  oj  the  Middle  Ages, 

eastern  apse.*  It  was  a  large  and  handsome  room,  with  a  good  deal  of 
architectural  ornament  ;f  often  the  western  end  of  it  is  divided  off  as  a 
vestibule  or  ante-room ;  and  generally  it  is  so  large  as  to  be  divided  into 
two  or  three  aisles  by  rows  of  pillars.     Internally,  rows  of  stalls  or  benches 

Monks  and  Lawyers  in  Chapter-house. 

were  arranged  round  the  walls  for  the  convent ;  there  was  a  higher  seat  at 
the  east  end  for  the  abbot  or  prior,  and  a  desk  in  the  middle  from  which 
certain  things  were  read.  Every  day  after  the  service  called  Terce,  the 
convent  walked  in  procession  from  the  choir  to  the  chapter-house,  and 
took  their  proper  places.     When  the  abbot  had  taken  his  place,  the  monks 

*  And  at  Norwich  it  appears  to  have  had  an  eastern  apse.     See  ground-plan  in  Mr. 
Mackenzie  E.  C.  Walcott's  "  Church  and  Conventual  Arrangement,"  p.  85. 
t  Piers  Ploughman  describes  the  chapter-house  of  a  Benedictine  convent : — 
"  There  was  the  chapter-house,  wrought  as  a  great  church, 
Carved  and  covered  and  quaintly  entayled  [sculptured] ; 
With  seemly  selure  [ceiling]  y-set  aloft, 
As  a  parliament  house  y-painted  about." 

The  Cloister  Buildings.  79 

descended  one  step  and  bowed ;  he  returned  their  salutation,  and  all  took 

their  seats.     A  sentence  of  the  rule  of  the  order  was  read  by  one  of  the 

lovices  from  the  desk,  and  the  abbot,  or  in  his  absence  the  prior,  delivered 

explanatory  or  hortatory  sermon  upon  it ;  then  from  another  portion 

)f  the  book  was  read  the  names  of  brethren,  and  benefactors,  and  persons 

who  had  been  received  into  fraternity,  whose  decease  had  happened  on 

mt  day  of  the  year ;  and  the  convent  prayed  a  requicscant  in  pace  for  their 

)uls,  and  the  souls  of  all  the  faithful  departed  this  life.     Then  members 

)f  the  convent  who  had  been  guilty  of  slight  breaches  of  discipline  con- 

ssed  them,  kneeling  upon  a  low  stool  in  the  middle,  and  on  a  bow  from 

le  abbot,  intimating  his  remission  of  the  breach,  they  resumed  their  seats. 

any  had  a  complaint  to  make  against  any  brother,  it  was  here  made  and 

ljudged.*   Convent  business  was  also  transacted.     The  woodcut  gives  an 

imple  of  the  kind.    Henry  VII.  had  made  grants  to  Westminster  Abbey, 

condition  that  the  convent  should  perform  certain  religious  services 

his  behalf  ;\  and  in  order  that  the  services  should  not  fall  into  disuse, 

le  directed  that  yearly,  at  a  certain  period,  the  chief-justice,  or  the  king's 

torney,  or  the  recorder  of  London,  should  attend  in  chapter,  and  the 

)stract  of  the  grant  and  agreement  between  the  king  and  the  convent 

lould  be  read.     The  grant  which  was  thus  to  be  read  still  exists  in  the 

British  Museum ;  it  is  written  in  a  volume  superbly  bound,  with  the  royal 

Is  attached  in  silver  cases ;  it  is  from  the  illuminated  letter  at  the  head 

one  of  the  deeds  in  this  book  \  that  our  woodcut  is  taken.      It  rudely 

jpresents  the  chapter-house,  with  the  chief-justice  and  a  group  of  lawyers 

Dn  one  side,  the  abbot  and  convent  on  the  other,  and  a  monk  reading  the 

grant  from  the  desk  in  the  middle. 

Lydgate's  "Life  of  St.  Edmund"  (Harl.  2,278)  was  written  a.d.  1433,  by 

•  In  the  "  Vision  of  Piers  Ploughman  "  one  of  the  characters  complains  that  if  he 
commits  any  fault — 

"  They  do  me  fast  fridays  to  bread  and  water, 
And  am  challenged  in  the  chapitel-house  as  I  a  child  were  ;  " 
and  he  is  punished  in  a  childish  way,  which  is  too  plainly  spoken  to  bear  quotation. 
+  See  note  on  p.  76. 
\  The  woodcut  on  a  preceding  page  (23)  is  from  another  initial  letter  of  the  same  book. 

8o  The  Monks  of  the  Middle  Ages, 

command  of  his  abbot — he  was  a  monk  of  St.  Edmund's  Bury — on  the 
occasion  of  King  Henry  VI.  being  received — 

"  Of  their  chapter  a  brother  for  to  be ;" 
that  is,  to  the  fraternity  of  the  house.  An  illumination  on  f.  6  seems  to 
represent  the  king  sitting  in  the  abbot's  place  in  the  chapter-house,  with 
royal  officers  behind  him,  monks  in  their  places  on  each  side  of  the 
chapter-house,  the  lectern  in  the  middle,  and  a  group  of  clerks  at  the 
west  end.  It  is  probably  intended  as  a  picture  of  the  scene  of  the  king's 
being  received  to  fraternity. 

Adjoining  the  south  transept  is  usually  a  narrow  apartment ;  the  de- 
scription of  Durham,  drawn  up  soon  after  the  Dissolution,  says  that  it  was 
the  "  Locutory."  Another  conjecture  is  that  it  may  have  been  the  vestry. 
At  Netley  it  has  a  door  at  the  west,  with  a  trefoil  light  over  it,  a  two-light 
window  at  the  east,  two  niches,  like  monumental  niches,  in  its  north  and 
south  walls,  and  a  piscina  at  the  east  end  of  its  south  wall. 

Again,  between  this  and  the  chapter-house  is  often  found  a  small  apart- 
ment, which  some  have  conjectured  to  be  the  penitential  cell.  In  other 
cases  it  seems  to  be  merely  a  passage  from  the  cloister-court  to  the  space 
beyond ;  in  which  space  the  abbot's  lodging  is  often  situated,  so  that  it 
may  have  been  the  abbot's  entrance  to  the  church  and  chapter. 

In  Cistercian  houses  there  is  usually  another  long  building  south  of  the 
chapter-house,  its  axis  running  north  and  south.  This  was  perhaps  in  its 
lower  story  the  Frater-house,  a  room  to  which  the  monks  retired  after 
refection  to  converse,  and  to  take  their  allowance  of  wine,  or  other  indul- 
gences in  diet  which  were  allowed  to  them;  and  some  quotations  in 
Fosbroke  would  lead  us  to  imagine  that  the  monks  dined  here  on  feast 
days.  It  would  answer  to  the  great  chamber  of  mediaeval  houses,  and  in 
some  respects  to  the  Combination-room  *  of  modern  colleges.  The  upper 
story  of  this  building  was  probably  the  Dormitory.  This  was  a  long  room, 
with  a  vaulted  or  open  timber  roof,  in  which  the  pallets  were  arranged  in  rows 
on  each  side  against  the  wall.     The  prior  or  sub-prior  usually  slept  in  the 

■  A  room  adjoining  the  hall,  to  which  the  fellows  retire  after  dinner  to  take  their  wine 
anu  converse. 

The  Monastery.  8 1 

dormitory,  with  a  light  burning  near  him,  in  order  to  maintain  order. 
The  monks  slept  in  the  same  habits  *  which  they  wore  in  the  day-time. 

About  the  middle  of  the  south  side  of  the  court,  in  Cistercian  houses, 
there  is  a  long  room,  whose  longer  axis  lies  north  and  south,  with  a  smaller 
room  on  each  side  of  it,  which  was  probably  the  Refectory.  In  other 
houses,  the  refectory  forms  the  south  side  of  the  cloister  court,  lying  parallel 
with  the  nave  of  the  church.  Very  commonly  it  has  a  row  of  pillars  down 
the  centre,  to  support  the  groined  roof.  It  was  arranged,  like  all  mediaeval 
halls,  with  a  dais  at  the  upper  end  and  a  screen  at  the  lower.  In  place  of 
the  oriel  window  of  mediaeval  halls,  there  was  a  pulpit,  which  was  often  in 
the  embrasure  of  a  quasi-oriel  window,  in  which  one  of  the  brethren  read 
some  edifying  book  during  meals. 

The  remaining  apartments  of  the  cloister-court  it  is  more  difficult  to 
appropriate.  In  some  of  the  great  Cistercian  houses  whose  ground-plan 
can  be  traced — as  Fountains,  Salley,  Netley,  &c. — possibly  the  long 
apartment  which  is  found  on  the  west  side  of  the  cloister  was  the  hall  of 
the  Hospitium,  with  chambers  over  it  Another  conjecture  is,  that  it  was 
the  house  of  the  lay  brethrea 

In  the  uncertainty  which  at  present  exists  on  these  points  of  monastic 
arrangement,  we  cannot  speak  with  any  degree  of  certainty ;  but  we  throw 
together  some  data  on  the  subject  in  the  subjoined  note.f 

•  The  ordinary  fashion  of  the  time  was  to  sleep  without  any  clothing  whatever. 

t  In  the  plan  of  the  ninth-century  Benedictine  monastery  of  St.  Gall,  published  in  the 
Archccological  Journal  for  June,  1848,  the  dormitory  is  on  the  east,  with  the  calefactory 
under  it ;  the  refectory  on  the  south,  with  the  clothes-store  above ;  the  cellar  on  the  west, 
with  the  larders  above.  In  the  plan  of  Canterbury  Cathedral,  a  Benedictine  house,  as 
it  existed  in  the  latter  half  of  the  twelfth  century,  the  church  was  on  the  south,  the 
chapter-house  and  dormitory  on  the  east,  the  refectory,  parallel  with  the  church,  on 
the  north,  and  the  cellar  on  the  west.  At  the  Benedictine  monastery  at  Durham,  the 
church  was  on  the  north,  the  chapter-house  and  locutory  on  the  east,  the  refectory  on  the 
south,  and  the  dormitory  on  the  west.  At  the  Augustinian  Regular  Priory  of  Bridlington, 
the  church  was  on  the  north,  the  fratry  (refectory)  on  the  south,  the  chapter-house  on  the 
east,  the  dortor  also  on  the  east,  up  a  stair  twenty  steps  high,  and  the  west  side  was 
occupied  by  the  prior's  lodgings. 

At  the  Premonstratensian  Abbey  of  Easby,  the  church  is  on  the  north,  the  transept, 
passage,  chapter-house,  and  small  apartments  on  the  east,  the  refectory  on  the  south,  and 
on  the  west  two  large  apartments,  with  a  passage  between  them.     The  Rev.  J.  F.  Turner, 


82  The  Monks  of  the  Middle  Ages, 

The  Scriptorium  is  said  to  have  been  usually  over  the  chapter-house. 
It  was  therefore  a  large  apartment,  capable  of  containing  many  persons, 
and,  in  fact,  many  persons  did  work  together  in  it  in  a  very  business-like 
manner  at  the  transcription  of  books.  For  example,  William,  Abbot 
of  Herschau,  in  the  eleventh  century,  as  stated  by  his  biographer: 
"  Knowing,  what  he  had  learned  by  laudable  experience,  that  sacred 
reading  is  the  necessary  food  of  the  mind,  made  twelve  of  his  monks  very 
excellent  writers,  to  whom  he  committed  the  office  of  transcribing  the  holy 
Scriptures,  and  the  treatises  of  the  Fathers.  Besides  these,  there  were  an 
indefinite  number  of  other  scribes,  who  wrought  with  equal  diligence  on 
the  transcription  of  other  books.  Over  them  was  a  monk  well  versed  in 
all  kinds  of  knowledge,  whose  business  it  was  to  appoint  some  good  work 
as  a  task  for  each,  and  to  correct  the  mistakes  of  those  who  wrote 
negligently."*  The  general  chapter  of  the  Cistercian  order,  held  in 
a.d.  1 134,  directs  that  the  same  silence  should  be  maintained  in  the  scrip- 
torium as  in  the  cloister.  Sometimes  perhaps  little  separate  studies  of 
wainscot  were  made  round  this  large  apartment,  in  which  the  writers  sat  at 
their  desks.  Sometimes  this  literary  work  was  carried  on  in  the  cloister, 
which,  being  glazed,  would  be  a  not  uncomfortable  place  in  temperate 
weather,  and  a  very  comfortable  place  in  summer,  with  its  coolness  and 
quiet,  and  the  peep  through  its  windows  on  the  green  court  and  the  foun- 
tain in  the  centre,  and  the  grey  walls  of  the  monastic  buildings  beyond ; 
the  slow  footfall  of  a  brother  going  to  and  fro,  and  the  cawing  of  the  rooks 
in  the  minster  tower,  would  add  to  the  dreamy  charm  of  such  a  library,  f 

Odo,  Abbot  of  St.  Martin's,  at  Tournay,  about  1093,  "used  to  exult  in 
the  number  of  writers  the  Lord  had  given  him  ;  for  if  you  had  gone  into 
the  cloister  you  might  in  general  have  seen  a  dozen  young  monks  sitting 
on  chairs  in  perfect  silence,  writing   at   tables   carefully  and   artificially 

Chaplain  of  Bishop  Cozin's  Hall,  Durham,  describes  these  as  the  common  house  and 
kitchen,  and  places  the  dormitory  in  a  building  west  of  them,  at  a  very  inconvenient  dis- 
tance from  the  church. 

*  Maitland's  "Dark  Ages." 

f  At  Winchester  School,  until  a  comparatively  recent  period,  the  scholars  in  the 
summer  time  studied  in  the  cloisters. 

The  Monastery. 


constructed.  All  Jerome's  commentaries  on  the  Prophets,  all  the  works  of 
St.  Gregory,  and  everything  that  he  could  find  of  St.  Augustine,  Ambrose, 
Isodore,  Bede,  and  the  Lord  Anselm,  then  Abbot  of  Bee,  and  afterwards 
Archbishop  of  Canterbury,  he  caused  to  be  transcribed.  So  that  you 
would  scarcely  have  found  such  a  monastery  in  that  part  of  the  country, 
and  everybody  was  begging  for  our  copies  to  correct  their  own."  Some- 
times little  studies  of  wainscot  were  erected  in  the  cloisters  for  the  monks 
to  study  or  transcribe  in.  At  Gloucester  Cathedral,  at  Beaulieu,  and  at 
Melrose,  for  example,  there  are  traces  of  the  way  in  which  the  windows 
of  the  cloisters  were  enclosed  and  turned  into  such  studies.* 

Monk  in  Scriptorium, 

There  are  numerous  illuminations  representing  monks  and  ecclesiastics 
writing;  they  sit  in  chairs  of  various  kinds,  some  faldstools,  some 
armed  chairs,  some  armed  backed ;  and  they  have  desks  and  bookstands 
before  them  of  various  shapes,  commonly  a  stand  with  sloping  desk  like 
a  Bible  lectem,  not  unfrequently  a  kind  of  dumb-waiter  besides  on  which 
are  several  books.     We  see  also  in  these  illuminations  the  forms  of  the 

•  For  much  curious  information  about  scriptoria  and  monastic  libraries,  see  Maitland'. 
**  Dark  Ages,"  quoted  above. 

84  The  Monks  of  the  Middle  Ages. 

pens,  knives,  inkstands,  &c,  which  were  used.  We  will  only  mention  two 
of  unusual  interest.  One  is  in  a  late  fourteenth-century  Psalter,  Harl. 
2,897,  at  p.  186,  v.,  where  St.  Jude  sits  writing  his  Epistle  in  a  canopied 
chair,  with  a  shelf  across  the  front  of  the  chair  to  serve  as  a  desk ;  a  string 
with  a  weight  at  the  end  holds  his  parchment  down,  and  there  is  a  bench 
beside,  on  which  lies  a  book.  A  chair  with  a  similar  shelf  is  at  f.  12  of  the 
MS.  Egerton,  1,070.  Our  woodcut  on  the  preceding  page  is  from  a  MS. 
in  the  Library  of  Soissons.  We  also  find  representations  of  ecclesiastics 
writing  in  a  small  cell  which  may  represent  the  enclosed  scriptoria — e.g. 
St.  Bonaventine  writing,  in  the  MS.  Harl.  3,229  ;  St.  John  painting,  in 
the  late  fifteenth-century  MS.  Add.  15,677,  f.  35. 

The  Abbot's  Lodging  sometimes  formed  a  portion  of  one  of  the  monastic 
courts,  as  at  St.  Mary,  Bridlington,  where  it  formed  the  western  side  of 
the  cloister-court;  but  more  usually  it  was  a  detached  house,  precisely 
similar  to  the  contemporary  unfortified  houses  of  laymen  of  similar 
rank  and  wealth.  No  particular  site  relative  to  the  monastic  buildings 
was  appropriated  to  it;  it  was  erected  wherever  was  most  convenient 
within  the  abbey  enclosure.  The  principal  rooms  of  an  abbof  s  house  are 
the  Hall,  the  Great  Chamber,  the  Kitchen,  Buttery,  Cellars,  &c,  the 
Chambers,  and  the  Chapel.  We  must  remember  that  the  abbots  of  the 
greater  houses  were  powerful  noblemen ;  the  abbots  of  the  smaller  houses 
were  equal  in  rank  and  wealth  to  country  gentlemen.  They  had  a  very 
constant  succession  of  noble  and  gentle  guests,  whose  entertainment  was 
such  as  their  rank  and  habits  required.  This  involved  a  suitable 
habitation  and  establishment ;  and  all  this  must  be  borne  in  mind  whe« 
we  endeavour  to  picture  to  ourselves  an  abbot's  lodging.  To  give  an 
idea  of  the  magnitude  of  some  of  the  abbots'  houses,  we  may  record  that 
the  hall  of  the  Abbot  of  Fountains  was  divided  by  two  rows  of  pillars  into 
a  centre  and  aisles,  and  that  it  was  170  feet  long  by  70  feet  wide.*  Half 
a  dozen  noble  guests,  with  their  retinues  of  knights  and  squires,  and  men- 
at-arms  and  lacqueys,  and  all  the  abbot's  men  to  boot,  would  be  lost  in 

*  The  hall  of  the  Royal  Palace  of  Winchester,  erected  at  the  same  period,  was 
III  feet  by  55  feet  9  inches. 

The  Monastery. 


such  a  hall.  On  the  great  feast-days  it  might,  perhaps,  be  comfortably 
filled.  But  even  such  a  hall  would  hardly  contain  the  companies  who  were 
sometimes  entertained,  on  such  great  days  for  instance  as  an  abbot's 
installation-day,  when  it  is  on  record  that  an  abbot  of  one  of  the  greater 
houses  would  give  a  feast  to  three  or  four  thousand  people. 

Of  the  lodgings  of  the  superiors  of  smaller  houses,  we  may  take  that  of 
the  Prior  of  St.  Mary's,  Bridlington,  as  an  example.  It  is  very  accurately 
described  by  King  Henry's  commissioners ;  it  formed  the  west  side  of  the 
cloister-court;  it  contained  a  hall  with  an  undercroft,  eighteen  paces 
long  from  the  screen  to  the  dais,*  and  ten  paces  wide ;  on  its  north  side  a 
great  chamber,  twenty  paces  long  and  nineteen  wide ;  at  the  west  end  of 
the  great  chamber  the  prior's  sleeping-chamber, 
and  over  that  a  garret ;  on  the  east  side  of  the 
same  chamber  a  little  chamber  and  a  closet; 
at  the  south  end  of  the  hall  the  buttery  and 
pantry,  and  a  chamber  called  the  Auditor's 
Chamber;  at  the  same  end  of  the  hall  a  fair 
parlour,  called  the  Low  Summer  Parlour ;  and 
over  it  another  fair  chamber  ;  and  adjoining  that 
three  little  chambers  for  servants ;  at  the  south 
end  of  the  hall  the  Prior's  Kitchen,  with  three 
houses  covered  with  lead,  and  adjoining  it  a 
chamber  called  the  South  Cellarer's  Chamber,  f 

There  were  several  other  buildings  of  a  monastery,  which  were  some- 
times detached,  and  placed  as  convenience  dictated.  The  Infirmary 
especially  seems  to  have  been  more  commonly  detached ;  in  many  cases 
it  had  its  own  kitchen,  and  refectory,  and  chapel,  and  chambers,  which 
sometimes  were  arranged  round  a  court,  and  formed  a  complete  little 
separate  establishment. 

The  Hospitium,  or  Guest-house,  was  sometimes  detached;  but  more 

A  Present  of  Fish. 

•  Its  total  length  would  perhaps  be  about  twenty-four  paces. 

t  The  above  woodcut,  from  the  Harleian  MS.  1,527,  represents,  probably,  the  cellarei 
of  a  Dominican  convent  receiving  a  donation  of  a  fish.  It  curiously  suggests  the  scene 
depicted  in  Sir  Edwin  Landseer's  "  Bolton  Abbey  in  the  Olden  Time." 

86  The  Monks  of  the  Middle  Ages. 

usually  it  seems  to  have  formed  a  portion  of  an  outer  court,  westward  of 
the  cloister-court,  which  court  was  entered  from  the  great  gates,  or  from 
one  of  the  outer  gates  of  the  abbey.  In  Cistercian  houses,  as  we  have 
said,  the  guest-house,  with  its  hall  below  and  its  chambers  above,  perhaps 
occupied  the  west  side  of  the  cloister-court,  and  would  therefore  form  the 
eastern  range  of  buildings  of  this  outer  court.  At  St.  Mary's,  Bridlington, 
where  the  prior's  lodging  occupied  this  position,  the  "  lodgings  and  stables 
for  strangers"  were  on  the  north  side  of  this  outer  court.  The  guest- 
houses were  often  of  great  extent  and  magnificence.  The  Guesten-hall 
of  St.  Augustine's,  Canterbury,  still  remains,  and  is  a  very  noble  building, 
150  feet  long  by  50  broad,  of  Norman  date,  raised  on  an  undercroft. 
The  Guesten-hall  of  Worcester  also  remains,  a  very  noble  building  on  an 
undercroft,  with  a  fine  carved  timber  roof,  and  portions  of  the  painting 
which  decorated  the  wall  behind  the  dais  still  visible.*  Besides  the 
hall,  the  guest-house  contained  often  a  great-chamber  (answering  to  our 
modern  drawing-room)  and  sleeping-chambers,  and  a  chapel,  in  which 
service  was  performed  for  guests — for  in  those  days  it  was  the  custom 
always  to  hear  prayers  before  dinner  and  supper. 

Thus,  at  Durham,  we  are  told  that  "  a  famous  house  of  hospitality  was 
kept  within  the  abbey  garth,  called  the  Guest-hall,  and  was  situate  in  the 
west  side,  towards  the  water.  The  sub-prior  of  the  house  was  the  master 
thereof,  as  one  appointed  to  give  entertainment  to  all  estates,  noble, 
gentle,  or  what  other  degree  soever,  came  thither  as  strangers.  Their 
entertainment  was  not  inferior  to  that  of  any  place  in  England,  both  for 
the  goodness  of  their  diet,  the  clean  and  neat  furniture  of  their  lodgings, 
and  generally  all  things  necessary  for  travellers ;  and,  with  this  entertain- 
ment, no  man  was  required  to  depart  while  he  continued  honest  and  of 
good  behaviour.  This  hall  was  a  stately  place,  not  unlike  the  body  of  a 
church,  supported  on  each  side  by  very  fine  pillars,  and  in  the  midst  of 
the  hall  a  long  range  for  the  fire.  The  chambers  and  lodgings  belonging 
to  it  were  kept  very  clean  and  richly  furnished."  At  St  Albans,  the  Guest- 

*  See  an  account  of  this  hall,  with  pen-and-ink  sketches  by  Mr.  Street,  in  the  volume 
of  the  Worcester  Architectural  Society  for  1854. 

The  Monastery,  87 

house  was  an  enormous  range  of  rooms,  with  stabling  for  three  hundred 

There  is  a  passage  in  the  correspondence  of  Coldingham  Priory  (pub- 
lished by  the  Surties  Society,  1841,  p.  52)  which  gives  us  a  graphic  sketch 
of  the  arrival  of  guests  at  a  monastery: — "  On  St.  Alban's-day,  June  17 
[year  not  given — it  was  towards  the  end  of  Edward  III.],  two  monks, 
with  a  company  of  certain  secular  persons,  came  riding  into  the  gateway 
of  the  monastery  about  nine  o'clock  in  the  morning.  This  day  happened 
to  be  Sunday,  but  they  were  hospitably  and  reverently  received,  had 
lodgings  assigned  them,  a  special  mass  service  performed  for  them,  and 
after  a  refection  and  washing  their  feet,  it  being  supposed  that  they  were 
about  to  pursue  their  journey  to  London  the  next  morning,  they  were  left 
at  an  early  hour  to  take  repose.  While  the  bell  was  summoning  the  rest 
of  the  brotherhood  to  vespers,  the  monk  who  had  been  in  attendance 
upon  them  (the  hospitaller)  having  gone  with  the  rest  to  sing  his  chant  in 
the  choir,  the  secular  persons  appear  to  have  asked  the  two  monks  to  take 
a  walk  with  them  to  look  at  the  Castle  of  Durham,"  &c* 

There  could  hardly  have  been  any  place  in  the  Middle  Ages  which 
could  have  presented  such  a  constant  succession  of  picturesque  scenes  as 
the  Hospitium  of  a  monastery.  And  what  a  contrast  must  often  have 
existed  between  the  Hospitium  and  the  Cloister.  Here  a  crowd  of  people 
of  every  degree — nobles  and  ladies,  knights  and  dames,  traders  with  then- 
wares,  minstrels  with  their  songs  and  juggling  tricks,  monks  and  clerks, 
palmers,  friars,  beggars — bustling  about  the  court  or  crowding  the  long 
tables  of  the  hall ;  and,  a  few  paces  off,  the  dark-frocked  monks,  with  faces 
buried  in  their  cowls,  pacing  the  ambulatory  in  silent  meditation,  or  sitting 
at  their  meagre  refection,  enlivened  only  by  the  monotonous  sound  of  the 
novice's  voice  reading  a  homily  from  the  pulpit ! 

Many  of  the  remaining  buildings  of  the  monastery  were  arranged  around 
this  outer  court.  Ingulphus  tells  us  that  the  second  court  of  the  Saxon 
monastery  of  Croyland  (about  875  a.d.)  had  the  gate  on  the  north,  and 

•  Quoted  by  Archdeacon  Churton  in  a  paper  read  before  the  Yorkshire  Architectural 
Society  in  1853. 

88  The  Monks  of  the  Middle  Ages, 

the  almonry  near  it — a  very  usual  position  for  it ;  the  shops  of  the  tailors 
and  shoe-makers,  the  hall  of  the  novices,  and  the  abbot's  lodgings  on  the 
east ;  the  guest-hall  and  its  chambers  on  the  south ;  and  the  stable-house, 
and  granary,  and  bake-house  on  the  west.  The  Gate-house  was  usually  a 
large  and  handsome  tower,  with  the  porter's  lodge  on  one  side  of  the 
arched  entrance ;  and  often  a  strong  room  on  the  other,  which  served  as 
the  prison  of  the  manor-court  of  the  convent ;  and  often  a  handsome  room 
over  the  entrance,  in  which  the  manorial  court  was  held.  In  the  middle 
of  the  court  was  often  a  stone  cross,  round  which  markets  and  fairs  were 
often  held. 

In  the  "  Vision  of  Piers  Ploughman  "  an  interesting  description  is  given 
of  a  Dominican  convent  of  the  fourteenth  century.  We  will  not  trouble 
the  reader  with  the  very  archaic  original,  but  will  give  him  a  paraphrase  of 
it.  The  writer  says  that,  on  approaching,  he  was  so  bewildered  by  their 
magnitude  and  beauty,  that  for  a  long  time  he  could  distinguish  nothing 
certainly  but  stately  buildings  of  stone,  pillars  carved  and  painted,  and  great 
windows  well  wrought.  In  the  quadrangle  he  notices  the  cross  standing 
in  the  centre,  surrounded  with  tabernacle-work:  he  enters  the  minster 
(church),  and  describes  the  arches  carved  and  gilded,  the  wide  windows 
full  of  shields  of  arms  and  merchants'  marks  on  stained  glass,  the  high 
tombs  under  canopies,  with  armed  effigies  in  alabaster,  and  lovely  ladies 
lying  by  their  sides  in  many  gay  garments.  He  passes  into  the  cloister 
and  sees  it  pillared  and  painted,  and  covered  with  lead  and  paved  with 
tiles,  and  conduits  of  white  metal  pouring  their  water  into  latten  (bronze) 
lavatories  beautifully  wrought.  The  chapter-house  he  says  was  wrought 
like  a  great  church,  carved  and  painted  like  a  parliament-house.  Then 
he  went  into  the  fratry,  and  found  it  a  hall  fit  for  a  knight  and  his  house- 
hold, with  broad  boards  (tables)  and  clean  benches,  and  windows  wrought 
as  in  a  church.     Then  he  wandered  all  about — 

"  And  seigh  halles  ful  heigh,  and  houses  ful  noble, 
Chambres  with  chymneys,  and  chapeles  gaye, 
And  kychenes  for  an  high  kynge  in  castels  to  holden, 
And  their  dortoure  ydight  with  dores  ful  stronge, 
Fermerye,  and  fraitur,  with  fele  more  houses, 

Monastic  Cells.  89 

And  all  strong  stone  wall,  sterne  opon  heithe, 
With  gay  garites  and  grete,  and  ich  whole  yglazed, 
And  other  houses  ynowe  to  herberwe  the  queene." 

The  churches  of  the  friars  differed  from  those  of  monks.  They  were 
frequently  composed  either  of  a  nave  only  or  a  nave  and  two  (often 
very  narrow)  aisles,  without  transepts,  or  chapels,  or  towers;  they  were 
adapted  especially  for  preaching  to  large  congregations — e.g.  the  Austin 
Friars'  Church  in  the  City  of  London,  lately  restored ;  St.  Andrew's  Hall, 
Norwich.  In  Viollet  le  Due's  "  Dictionary  of  Architecture "  is  given  a 
bird's-eye  view  of  the  monastery  of  the  Augustine  Friars  of  St  Marie  des 
Vaux  Verts,  near  Brussels,  which  is  a  complete  example  of  one  of  these 

Every  monastery  had  a  number  of  dependent  establishments  of  greater 
or  less  size :  cells  on  its  distant  estates ;  granges  on  its  manors ;  chapels  in 
places  where  the  abbey  tenants  were  at  a  distance  from  a  church; 
and  often  hermitages  under  its  protection.  A  ground -plan  and  view 
of  one  of  these  cells,  the  Priory  of  St,  Jean-les-Bons-hommes,  of  the 
end  of  the  twelfth  century,  still  remaining  in  a  tolerably  perfect  state,  is 
given  by  Viollet  le  Due  (Diet.  Arch.,  i.  276,  277).  It  is  a  miniature 
monastery,  with  a  little  cloistered  court,  surrounded  by  the  usual  buildings : 
an  oratory  on  the  north  side ;  on  the  east  a  sacristy,  and  chapter-house, 
and  long  range  of  buildings,  with  dormitory  over;  on  the  south  side  the 
refectory  and  kitchen ;  and  another  exterior  court,  with  stables  and  offices. 
The  preceptory  of  Hospitallers  at  Chibbum,  Northumberland,  which 
remains  almost  as  the  knights  left  it,  is  another  example  of  these  small 
rural  houses.  It  is  engraved  in  Turner's  "  Domestic  Architecture,"  vol.  ii. 
p.  197.  It  also  consists  of  a  small  court,  with  a  chapel  about  forty-five  feet 
long,  on  the  west  side ;  and  other  buildings,  which  we  cannot  appropriate, 
on  the  remaining  sides.  Of  the  monastic  cells  we  have  already  spoken  in 
describing  the  office  of  prior.  The  one  or  two  brethren  who  were  placed 
in  a  cell  to  manage  the  distant  estates  of  the  monastery  would  probably  be 

*  Ground-plans  of  the  Dominican  Friary  at  Norwich,  the  Carmelite  Friary  at  Hulne 
and  the  Franciscan  Friary  at  Kilconnel,  may  be  found  in  Walcott's  "Church  and  Cou. 
ventual  Arrangement." 

go  The  Monks  of  the  Middle  Ages. 

chosen  rather  for  their  qualities  as  prudent  stewards  than  for  their  piety. 
The  command  of  money  which  their  office  gave  them,  and  their  distance 
from  the  supervision  of  their  ecclesiastical  superiors,  brought  them  under 
temptation,  and  it  is  probably  in  these  cells,  and  among  the  brethren  who 
superintended  the  granges,  and  the  officials  who  could  leave  the  monastery 
at  pleasure  on  the  plea  of  convent  business,  that  we  are  to  look  for  the 
irregularities  of  which  the  Middle-Age  satirists  speak.  The  monk  among 
Chaucer's  "  Canterbury  Pilgrims  "  was  prior  of  a  cell,  for  we  read  that — 

"  When  he  rode,  men  might  his  bridel  here 
Gingeling  in  a  whistling  sound,  as  clere 
And  eke  as  loud  as  doth  the  chapelle  belle, 
Ther  as  this  lord  was  keeper  of  the  celle." 

The  monk  on  whose  intrigue  "The  Shipman's  Tale"  is  founded,  was 
probably  the  cellarer  of  his  convent : — 

"  This  noble  monk  of  which  I  you  devise, 
Had  of  his  abbot,  as  him  list,  licence  ; 
Because  he  was  a  man  of  high  prudence, 
And  eke  an  officer,  out  for  to  ride 
To  seen  his  granges  and  his  bernes  wide." 

A<  Abbot  travelling. 

The  abbot,  too,  sometimes  gave  license  to  the  monks  to  go  and  see  their 
friends,  or  to  pass  two  or  three  days  at  one  or  other  of  the  manors  of  the 

Monastic  Cells. 


house  for  recreation;  and  sometimes  he  took  a  monk  with  him  on  his  own 
journeys.  In  a  MS.  romance,  in  the  British  Museum  (Add.  10,293,  *"•  ll)> 
is  a  representation  of  a  monk  with  his  hood  on,  journeying  on  horseback. 
We  give  here,  from  the  St.  Alban's  Book  (Nero,  D.  vii.),  a  woodcut  of  an 
abbot  on  horseback,  with  a  hat  over  his  hood — "  an  abbot  on  an  ambling 
pad  f  he  is  giving  his  benediction  in  return  to  the  salute  of  some  passing 

Hermitages  or  anchorages  sometimes  depended  on  a  monastery,  and 
were  not  necessarily  occupied  by  brethren  of  the  monastery,  but  by  any 
one  desirous  to  embrace  this  mode  of  life  whom  the  convent  might  choose. 
The  hermit,  however,  probably,  usually  wore  the  habit  of  the  order.  The 
monastery  often  supplied  the  hermit  with  his  food.  In  a  picture  in  the  MS. 
romance,  before  quoted  (Add.  10,292,  f.  98),  is  a  representation  of  a 
knight-errant  on  horseback,  conversing  by  the  way  with  a  clerk,  who  is 
carrying  bread  and  wine  to  a  hermitage. 

The  woodcut  with  which  we  conclude,  from  the  Harleian  MS.,  1,527, 
represents  the  characteristic  costume  of  three  orders  of  religious  with 
whom  we  have  been  concerned — a  bishop,  an  abbot,  and  a  clerk. 

Bishop,  Abbot,  and  CUrk. 



TH  E     HERM  I  T  S. 

E  have  already  related,  in  a  former  chapter  (p.  3),  that  the  ascetics 
who  abandoned  the  stirring  world  of  the  ^Egypto-Greek  cities,  and 
resorted  to  the  Theban  desert  to  lead  a  life  of  self-mortification 
and  contemplation,  frequently  associated  themselves  into  communities,  and 
thus  gave  rise  to  the  ccenobitical  orders  of  Christendom.  But  there  were 
others  who  still  preferred  the  solitary  life ;  and  they  had  their  imitators  in 
every  age  and  country  of  the  Christian  world.  We  have  not  the  same 
fulness  of  information  respecting  these  solitaries  that  we  have  respecting 
the  great  orders  of  monks  and  friars ;  but  the  scattered  notices  which 
remain  of  them,  when  brought  together,  form  a  very  curious  chapter  in  the 
history  of  human  nature,  well  worthy  of  being  written  out  in  ML  The 
business  of  the  present  paper,  however,  is  not  to  write  the  whole  chapter, 
but  only  to  select  that  page  of  it  which  relates  to  the  English  solitaries, 
and  to  give  as  distinct  a  picture  as  we  can  of  the  part  which  the  Hermits 
and  Recluses  played  on  the  picturesque  stage  of  the  England  of  the 
Middle  Ages. 
We  have  to  remember,  at  the   outset,   that  it  was  not  all  who  bore 

94  The  Hermits  and  Recluses  of  the  Middle  Ages. 

the  name  of  Eremite  who  lived  a  solitary  life.  We  have  already  had 
occasion  to  mention  that  Innocent  IV.,  in  the  middle  of  the  thirteenth 
century,  found  a  number  of  small  religious  communities  and  solitaries,  who 
were  not  in  any  of  the  recognised  religious  orders,  and  observed  no 
authorised  rule  ;  and  that  he  enrolled  them  all  into  a  new  order,  with  the 
rule  of  St.  Augustine,  under  the  name  of  Eremiti  Augustini.  The  new 
order  took  root,  and  flourished,  and  gave  rise  to  a  considerable  number  of 
large  communities,  very  similar  in  every  respect  to  the  communities  of 
friars  of  the  three  orders  previously  existing.  The  members  of  these  new 
communities  did  not  affect  seclusion,  but  went  about  among  the  people,  as 
the  Dominicans,  and  Franciscans,  and  Carmelites  did.  The  popular 
tongue  seems  to  have  divided  the  formal  title  of  the  new  order,  and  to 
have  applied  the  name  of  Augustine,  or,  popularly,  Austin  Friars,  to 
these  new  communities  of  friars ;  while  it  reserved  the  distinctive  name  of 
Eremites,  or  Hermits,  for  the  religious,  who,  whether  they  lived  absolutely 
alone,  or  in  little  aggregations  of  solitaries,  still  professed  the  old  eremitical 
principle  of  seclusion  from  the  world.  These  hermits  may  again  be  sub- 
divided into  Hermits  proper,  and  Recluses.  The  difference  between  them 
was  this  :  that  the  hermit,  though  he  professed  a  general  seclusion  from  the 
world,  yet,  in  fact,  held  communication  with  his  fellow-men  as  freely  as  he 
pleased,  and  might  go  in  and  out  of  his  hermitage  as  inclination  prompted, 
or  need  required ;  the  recluse  was  understood  to  maintain  a  more  strict 
abstinence  from  unnecessary  intercourse  with  others,  and  had  entered  into 
a  formal  obligation  not  to  go  outside  the  doors  of  his  hermitage.  In  the 
imperfect  notices  which  we  have  of  them,  it  is  often  impossible  to  deter- 
mine whether  a  particular  individual  was  a  hermit  or  a  recluse ;  but  we 
incline  to  the  opinion  that  of  the  male  solitaries  few  had  taken  the  vows  of 
reclusion ;  while  the  female  solitaries  appear  to  have  been  all  recluses.  So 
that,  practically,  the  distinction  almost  amounts  to  this — that  the  male 
solitaries  were  hermits,  and  the  females  recluses. 

Very  much  of  what  we  have  to  say  of  the  mediaeval  solitaries,  of  their 
abodes,  and  of  their  domestic  economy,  applies  both  to  those  who  had, 
and  to  those  who  had  not,  made  the  further  vow  of  reclusion.  We  shall, 
therefore,  treat  first  of  those  points  which  are  common  to  them,  and 

The  Hermits.  95 

then  devote  a  further  paper  to  those  things  which  are  peculiar  to  the 

The  popular  idea  of  a  hermit  is  that  of  a  man  who  was  either  a  half- 
crazed  enthusiast,  or  a  misanthrope — a  kind  of  Christian  Timon — who 
abandoned  the  abodes  of  men,  and  scooped  out  for  himself  a  cave  in  the 
rocks,  or  built  himself  a  rude  hut  in  the  forest ;  and  lived  there  a  half- 
savage  life,  clad  in  sackcloth  or  skins,*  eating  roots  and  wild  fruits,  and 
drinking  of  the  neighbouring  spring ;  visited  occasionally  by  superstitious 
people,  who  gazed  and  listened  in  fear  at  the  mystic  ravings,  or  wild 
denunciations,  of  the  gaunt  and  haggard  prophet.  This  ideal  has  probably 
been  derived  from  the  traditional  histories,  once  so  popular,t  of  the  early 
hermit-saints  ;  and  there  may  have  been,  perhaps,  always  an  individual  or 
two  of  whom  this  traditional  picture  was  a  more  or  less  exaggerated  repre- 
sentation. But  the  ordinary  English  hermit  of  the  Middle  Ages  was  a  totally 
different  type  of  man.    He  was  a  sober-minded  and  civilised  person,  who 

•  In  the  National  Gallery  is  a  painting  by  Fra  Angelico,  in  which  is  a  hermit  clad 
in  a  dress  woven  of  rushes  or  flags. 

t  "The  Wonderful  and  Godly  History  of  the  Holy  Fathers  Hermits,"  is  among 
Caxton's  earliest-printed  books.    Piers  Ploughman  ("  Vision  ")  speaks  of — 
"  Anthony  and  Egidius  and  other  holy  fathers 
"Woneden  in  wilderness  amonge  wilde  bestes 
In  spekes  and  in  spelonkes,  seldom  spoke  together. 
Ac  nobler  Antony  ne  Egedy  ne  hermit  of  that  time 
Of  lions  ne  of  leopards  no  livelihood  ne  took, 
But  of  fowles  that  fly,  thus  find  men  in  books." 
And  again — 

"  In  prayers  and  in  penance  putten  them  many. 
All  for  love  of  our  Lord  liveden  full  strait, 
In  hope  for  to  have  heavenly  blisse 
As  ancres  and  heremites  that  holden  them  in  their  cells 
And  coveten  not  in  country  to  kairen  [walk]  about 
For  no  likerous  lifelihood,  their  liking  to  please." 
And  yet  again — 

"  Ac  ancres  and  heremites  that  eaten  not  but  at  nones 
And  no  more  ere  morrow,  mine  almesse  shall  they  have, 
And  of  my  cattle  to  keep  them  with,  that  have  cloisters  and  churches, 
Ac  Robert  Run-about  shall  nought  have  of  mine." 

Fitrs  Ploughman's  Vision. 

96  The  Hermits  and  Recluses  of  the  Middle  Ages. 

dressed  in  a  robe  very  much  like  the  robes  of  the  other  religious  orders  \ 
lived  in  a  comfortable  little  house  of  stone  or  timber ;  often  had  estates,  or 
a  pension,  for  his  maintenance,  besides  what  charitable  people  were 
pleased  to  leave  him  in  their  wills,  or  to  offer  in  their  lifetime ;  he  lived  on 
bread  and  meat,  and  beer  and  wine,  and  had  a  chaplain  to  say  daily 
prayers  for  him,  and  a  servant  or  two  to  wait  upon  him ;  his  hermitage  was 
not  always  up  in  the  lonely  hills,  or  deep-buried  in  the  shady  forests — very 
often  it  was  by  the  great  high  roads,  and  sometimes  in  the  heart  of  great 
towns  and  cities. 

This  summary  description  is  so  utterly  opposed  to  all  the  popular 
notions,  that  we  shall  take  pains  to  fortify  our  assertions  with  sufficient 
proofs ;  indeed,  the  whole  subject  is  so  little  known  that  we  shall  illustrate 
it  freely  from  all  the  sources  at  our  command.  And  first,  as  it  is  one  of 
our  especial  objects  to  furnish  authorities  for  the  pictorial  representation 
of  these  old  hermits,  we  shall  inquire  what  kind  of  dress  they  did  actually 
wear  in  place  of  the  skins,  or  the  sackcloth,  with  which  the  popular 
imagination  has  clothed  them. 

We  should  be  inclined  to  assume  a  priori  that  the  hermits  would  wear 
the  habit  prescribed  by  Papal  authority  for  the  Eremiti  Augustini,  which, 
according  to  Stevens,  consisted  of  "  a  white  garment,  and  a  white  scapular 
over  it,  when  they  are  in  the  house ;  but  in  the  choir,  and  when  they  go 
abroad,  they  put  on,  over  all,  a  sort  of  cowl  and  a  large  hood,  both  black, 
the  hood  round  before,  and  hanging  down  to  the  waist  in  a  point,  being 
girt  with  a  black  leather  thong."  And  in  the  rude  woodcuts  which  adorn 
Caxton's  "  Vitas  Patrum,"  or  "  Lives  of  the  Hermits,"  we  do  find  some  of 
the  religious  men  in  a  habit  which  looks  like  a  gown,  with  the  arms  coming 
through  slits,  which  may  be  intended  to  represent  a  scapular,  and  with  hoods 
and  cowls  of  the  fashion  described  ;  while  others,  in  the  same  book,  are  in 
a  loose  gown,  in  shape  more  like  that  of  a  Benedictine.  Again,  in  Albert 
Durer's  "  St.  Christopher,"  as  engraved  by  Mrs.  Jameson,  in  her  "  Sacred  and 
Legendary  Art,"  p.  445,  the  hermit  is  represented  in  a  frock  and  scapular, 
with  a  cowl  and  hood.  But  in  the  majority  of  the  representations  of 
hermits  which  we  meet  with  in  mediaeval  paintings  and  illuminated  manu- 
scripts, the  costume  consists  of  a  frock,  sometimes  girded,  sometimes  not, 



and  over  it  an  ample  gown,  like  a  cloak,  with  a  hood ;  and  in  the  cases 
where  the  colour  of  the  robe  is  indicated,  it  is  almost  always  indicated  by 
a  light  brown  tint.*  It  is  not  unlikely  that  there  were  varieties  of  costume 
among  the  hermits.  Perhaps  those  who  were  attached  to  the  monasteries 
of  monks  and  friars,  and  who  seem  to  have  been  usually  admitted  to  the 
fraternity  of  the  house,  t  may  have  worn  the  cos- 
tume of  the  order  to  which  they  were  attached ; 
while  priest-hermits  serving  chantries  may  have 
worn  the  usual  costume  of  a  secular  priest. 
Bishop  Poore,  who  died  1237,  in  his"Ancren 
Pviewle,"  speaks  of  the  fashion  of  the  dress  to 
be  worn,  at  least  by  female  recluses,  as  indifferent 
Bilney,  speaking  especially  of  the  recluses  in  his 
day,  just  before  the  Reformation,  says,  "their 
apparell  is  indifferent,  so  it  be  dissonant  from  the 
laity."  In  the  woodcuts,  from  various  sources, 
which  illustrate  this  paper,  the  reader  will  see  for 
himself  how  the  hermits  are  represented  by  the 
mediaeval  artists,  who  had  them  constantly  under 
their  observation,  and  who  at  least  tried  their 
best  to  represent  faithfully  what  they  saw.  The 
best  and  clearest  illustration  which  we  have  been 
able  to  find  of  the  usual  costume  in  which  the 
hermits  are  represented,  we  here  give  to  the  reader.  It  is  from  the  figure 
of  St.  Damasus,  one  of  the  group  in  the  fine  picture  of  "  St  Jerome,"  by 

St.  Damasus,  Hermit. 

*  Piers  Ploughman  ("  Vision  ")  describes  himself  at  the  beginning  of  the  poem  as 
assuming  the  habit  of  a  hermit — 

"  In  a  summer  season  when  soft  was  the  sun 
In  habit  as  a  hermit  unholy  of  works, 
"Went  wild  in  this  world,  wonders  to  hear, 
All  on  a  May  morning  on  Malvern  Hills,"  &c 
And  at  the  beginning  of  the  eighth  part  he  says — 

"  Thus  robed  in  russet  I  roamed  about 
All  a  summer  season." 
t  For  the  custom  of  admitting  to  the  fraternity  of  a  religious  house,  see  p.  66* 


q8  The  Hermits  and  Recluses  of  the  Middle  Ages. 

Cosimo  Roselli  (who  lived  from  1439  t0  I5°6),  now  in  the  National 
Gallery.  The  hermit-saint  wears  a  light-brown  frock,  and  scapular,  with 
no  girdle,  and,  over  all,  a  cloak  and  hood  of  the  same  colour,  and  his 
naked  feet  are  protected  by  wooden  clogs. 

Other  illustrations  of  hermits  may  be  found  in  the  early  fourteenth  cen- 
tury MS.  Romances  Additional  10,293  £  335>  and  i°,294  f-  95-  ^n  tne 
latter  case  there  are  two  hermits  in  one  hermitage ;  also  in  Royal  1 6  G.  vi. 
Illustrations  of  St.  Anthony,  which  give  authorities  for  hermit  costume, 
and  indications  of  what  hermitages  were,  abound  in  the  later  MSS. ;  for 
example,  in  King  Rent's  "  Book  of  Hours  "  (Egerton  1,070),  at  f.  108,  the 
hermit-saint  is  habited  in  a  grey  frock  and  black  cloak  with  a  T-cross  on 
the  breast ;  he  holds  bell  and  book  and  staff  in  his  hands.  In  Egerton 
1,149,  of  the  middle  of  the  fifteenth  century.  In  Add.  15,677,  of  the  latter 
part  of  the  fifteenth  century,  at  f.  150,  is  St.  Anthony  in  brown  frock  and 
narrow  scapulary,  with  a  grey  cloak  and  hood  and  a  red  skull  cap ;  he  holds 
a  staff  and  book ;  his  hermitage,  in  the  background,  is  a  building  like  a  little 
chapel  with  a  bell-cot  on  the  gable,  within  a  grassy  enclosure  fenced 
with  a  low  wattled  fence.  Add.  18,854,  of  date  1525  a.d.,  f.  146,  repre- 
sents St.  Anthony  in  a  blue-grey  gown  and  hood,  holding  bell,  rosary, 
and  staff,  entering  his  hermitage,  a  little  building  with  a  bell-cot  on  the 

A  man  could  not  take  upon  himself  the  character  of  a  hermit  at  his  own 
pleasure.  It  was  a  regular  order  of  religion,  into  which  a  man  could 
not  enter  without  the  consent  of  the  bishop  of  the  diocese,  and  into 
which  he  was  admitted  by  a  formal  religious  service.  And  just  as 
bishops  do  not  ordain  men  to  holy  orders  until  they  have  obtained  a 
"title,"  a  place  in  which  to  exercise  their  ministry,  so  bishops  did  not 
admit  men  to  the  order  of  Hermits  until  they  had  obtained  a  hermitage 
in  which  to  exercise  their  vocation. 

The  form  of  the  vow  made  by  a  hermit  is  here  given,  from  the  Insti- 
tution Books  of  Norwich,  lib.  xiv.  fo.  27a  ("  East  Anglian,"  No.  9,  p.  107). 
"  I,  John  Fferys,  nott  maridd,  promyt  and  avowe  to  God,  or  Lady  Sent  Mary, 
and  to  all  the  seynts  in  heven,  in  the  p'sence  of  you  reverend  fadre  in  God, 
Richard  bishop  of  Norwich,  the  wowe  of  chastite,  after  the  rule  of  sent 

Hermits.  99 

paule  the  heremite.  In  the  name  of  the  fadre,  sone,  and  holy  gost.  John 
Fferere.     xiij.  meii,  anno  dni.  mlvciiij.  in  capella  de  Thorpe." 

We  summarize  the  service  for  habiting  and  blessing  a  hermit*  from  the 
pontifical  of  Bishop  Lacy  of  Exeter,  of  the  fourteenth  century,  f  It  begins 
with  several  psalms ;  then  several  short  prayers  for  the  incepting  hermit, 
mentioning  him  by  name.  \  Then  follow  two  prayers  for  the  benediction  of 
his  vestments,  apparently  for  different  parts  of  his  habit ;  the  first  mention- 
ing "  hec  indumenta  humilitatem  cordis  et  mundi  contemptum  signifi- 
cancia," — these  garments  signifying  humility  of  heart,  and  contempt  of 
the  world ;  the  second  blesses  "  hanc  vestem  pro  conservande  castitatis 
signo," — this  vestment  the  sign  of  chastity.  The  priest  then  delivers  the 
vestments  to  the  hermit  kneeling  before  him,  with  these  words,  "  Brother, 
behold  we  give  to  thee  the  eremitical  habit  {Jiabitum  heremiticuni),  with  which 
we  admonish  thee  to  live  henceforth  chastely,  soberly,  and  holily ;  in  holy 
watchings,  in  fastings,  in  labours,  in  prayers,  in  works  of  mercy,  that  thou 
mayest  have  eternal  life,  and  live  for  ever  and  ever."  And  he  receives 
them  saying,  "  Behold,  I  receive  them  in  the  name  of  the  Lord ;  and 
promise  myself  so  to  do  according  to  my  power,  the  grace  of  God,  and  of 
the  saints,  helping  me."  Then  he  puts  off  his  secular  habit,  the  priest 
saying  to  him,  "  The  Lord  put  off  from  thee  the  old  man  with  his  deeds ; " 
and  while  he  puts  on  his  hermit's  habit,  the  priest  says,  "  The  Lord  put 
on  thee  the  new  man,  which,  after  God,  is  created  in  righteousness  and 
true  holiness."  Then  follow  a  collect  and  certain  psalms,  and  finally  the 
priest  sprinkles  him  with  holy  water,  and  blesses  him. 

Men  of  all  ranks  took  upon  them  the  hermit  life,  and  we  find  the 
popular  writers  of  the  time  sometimes  distinguishing  among  them ;  one  is 
a  "  hermit-priest,"§  another  is  a  "  gende  hermit,"  not  in  the  sense  of  the 

•  "  Officium  induendi  et  benedicendi  heremitam." 

t  We  are  indebted  to  Mr.  M.  H.  Bloxam  for  a  copy  of  it 

X  "  Famulus  tuus  N."  It  is  noticable  that  the  masculine  gender  is  used  all  through, 
without  any  such  note  as  we  find  in  the  Service  for  Inclosing  (which  we  shall  have  to 
notice  hereafter),  that  this  service  shall  serve  for  both  sexes. 

§  The  hermit  who  interposed  between  Sir  Lionel  and  Sir  Bors,  and  who  was  killed 
by  Sir  Lionel  for  his  interference  (Malory's  "Prince  Arthur,"  m  ,  lxxix.),  is  called  a 

IOO  The  Hermits  and  Recluses  of  the  Middle  Ages, 

"  gentle  hermit  of  the  dale,"  but  meaning  that  he  was  a  man  of  gentle 
birth.  The  hermit  in  whose  hermitage  Sir  Launcelot  passed  long  time  is 
described  as  a  "  gentle  hermit,  which  sometime  was  a  noble  knight  and  a 
great  lord  of  possessions,  and  for  great  goodness  he  hath  taken  him  unto 
wilful  poverty,  and  hath  forsaken  his  possessions,  and  his  name  is  Sir 
Baldwin  of  Britain,  and  he  is  a  full  noble  surgeon,  and  a  right  good  leech." 
This  was  the  type  of  hermit  who  was  venerated  by  the  popular  superstition 
of  the  day :  a  great  and  rich  man  who  had  taken  to  wilful  poverty,  or  a 
man  who  lived  wild  in  the  woods — a  St.  Julian,  or  a  St.  Anthony.  A  poor 
man  who  turned  hermit,  and  lived  a  prosaic,  pious,  useful  life,  showing 
travellers  the  way  through  a  forest,  or  over  a  bog,  or  across  a  ferry,  and 
humbly  taking  their  alms  in  return,  presented  nothing  dramatic  and  striking 
to  the  popular  mind ;  very  likely,  too,  many  men  adopted  the  hermit  life 
for  the  sake  of  the  idleness  and  the  alms,*  and  deserved  the  small  repute 
they  had. 

It  is  apropos  of  Sir  Launcelot's  hermit  above-mentioned  that  the  romancer 
complains  "  for  in  those  days  it  was  not  with  the  guise  of  hermits  as  it  now 
is  in  these  days.  For  there  were  no  hermits  in  those  days,  but  that  they 
have  been  men  of  worship  and  prowess,  and  those  hermits  held  great 
households,  and  refreshed  people  that  were  in  distress."  We  find  the 
author  of  "  Piers  Ploughman  "  making  the  same  complaint.  We  have,  as 
in  other  cases,  a  little  modernised  his  language : — 

"  But  eremites  that  inhabit  them  by  the  highways, 
And  in  boroughs  among  brewers,  and  beg  in  churches, 
All  that  holy  eremites  hated  and  despised, 
(As  riches,  and  reverences,  and  rich  men's  alms), 
These  lollers,f  latche  drawers,^  lewd  eremites, 

"  hermit-priest."  Also,  in  the  Episcopal  Registry  of  Lichfield,  we  find  the  bishop,  date 
10th  February,  1409,  giving  to  Brother  Richard  Goldeston,  late  Canon  of  Wombrugge, 
now  recluse  at  Prior's  Lee,  near  Shiffenall,  license  to  hear  confessions. 

•     "  Great  loobies  and  long,  that  loath  were  to  swink  [work], 
Clothed  them  in  copes  to  be  known  from  others, 
And  shaped  them  hermits  their  ease  to  have." 

f  Wanderers.  \  Breakers  out  of  their  cells. 

Hermitages.  IOI 

Covet  on  the  contrary.    Nor  live  holy  as  eremites, 

That  lived  wild  in  woods,  with  bears  and  Rons. 

Some  had  livelihood  from  their  lineage*  and  of  no  life  else ; 

And  some  lived  by  their  learning,  and  the  labour  of  their  hands. 

Some  had  foreigners  for  friends,  that  their  food  sent ; 

And  birds  brought  to  some  bread,  whereby  they  lived. 

All  these  holy  eremites  were  of  high  kin, 

Forsook  land  and  lordship,  and  likings  of  the  body. 

But  these  eremites  that  edify  by  the  highways 

Whilome  were  workmen — webbers,  and  tailors, 

And  carter's  knaves,  and  clerks  without  grace. 

They  held  a  hungry  house.     And  had  much  want, 

Long  labour,  and  light  winnings.    And  at  last  espied 

That  lazy  fellows  in  friar's  clothing  had  fat  cheeks. 

Forthwith  left  they  their  labour,  these  lewd  knaves, 

And  clothed  them  in  copes  as  they  were  clerks, 

Or  one  of  some  order  [of  monks  or  friars],  or  else  prophets  [ereMites]." 

This  curious  extract  from  "  Piers  Ploughman "  leads  us  to  notice  the 

localities  in  which  hermitages  were  situated.     Sometimes,  no  doubt,  they 

wexe  in  lonely  and  retired  places  among  the  hills,  or  hidden  in  the  depths 

of  the  forests  which  then  covered  so  large  a  portion  of  the  land.     On  the 

next  page  is  a  very  interesting  little  picture  of  hermit  life,  from  a  MS.  Book 

of  Hours,  executed  for  Richard  II.  (British  Museum,  Domitian,  A.  xvii., 

folio  4  v.)   The  artist  probably  intended  to  represent  the  old  hermits  of  the 

Egyptian  desert,  Piers  Poughman's — 

"  Holy  eremites, 
That  lived  wild  in  woods 
With  bears  and  lions ;" 

but,  after  the  custom  of  mediaeval  art.  he  has  introduced  the  scenery, 
costume,  and  architecture  of  his  own  time.  Erase  the  bears,  which  stand 
for  the  whole  tribe  of  outlandish  beasts,  and  we  have  a  very  pretty  bit  of 
English  mountain  scenery.  The  stags  are  characteristic  enough  of  the  scenery 
of  mediaeval  England.  The  hermitage  on  the  right  seems  to  be  of  the  ruder 
sort,  made  in  part  of  wattled  work.  On  the  left  we  have  the  more  usual 
hermitage  of  stone,  with  its  little  chapel  bell  in  a  bell-cot  on  the  gable. 
The  venerable  old  hermit,  coming  out  of  the  doorway,  is  a  charming  illus- 

•  Kindred. 


The  Hermits  and  Recluses  of  the  Middle  Ages. 

tration  of  the  typical  hermit,  with  his  venerable  beard,  and  his  form 
bowed  by  age,  leaning  with  one  hand  on  his  cross-staff,  and  carrying 
his  rosary  in  the  other.  The  hermit  in  the  illustration  hereafter  given 
from  the  "History  of  Launcelot,"  on  page  114,  leans  on  a  similar 
staff;  it  would  seem  as  if  such  a  staff  was  a  usual  part  of  the  hermit's 
equipment.*      The  hermit  in  Albert  Diirer's  "St.  Christopher."  already 

Hermits  and  Hermitages. 

mentioned,  also  leans  on  a  staff,  but  of  rather  different  shape.  Here  is  a 
companion-picture,  in  pen  and  ink,  from  the  "  Morte  d' Arthur  :  " — "  Then 
he  departed  from  the  cross  [a  stone  cross  which  parted  two  ways  in  waste 
land,  under  which  he  had  been  sleeping],  on  foot,  into  a  wild  forest.  And  so 
by  prime  he  came  unto  an  high  mountain,  and  there  he  found  an  hermitage, 

*  In  "  Piers  Ploughman"  we  read  that — 

"  Hermits  with  hoked  staves 
Wenden  to  Walsingham ;" 

These  hooked  staves  may,  however,  have  been  pilgrim  staves,  not  hermit  staves.  The 
pastoral  staff  on  the  official  seal  of  Odo,  Bishop  of  Bayeux,  was  of  the  same  shape  as 
the  staff  above  represented.  A  staff  of  similar  shape  occurs  on  an  early  grave-stone 
at  Welbeck  Priory,  engraved  in  the  Rev.  E.  L.  Cutts's  "Manual  of  Sepulchral  Slabs  and 
Crosses,"  plate  xxxv. 

Hermitages.  103 

and  an  hermit  therein,  which  was  going  to  mass.  And  then  Sir  Launcelot 
kneeled  down  upon  both  his  knees,  and  cried  out,  '  Lord,  mercy ! '  for 
his  wicked  works  that  he  had  done.  So  when  mass  was  done,  Sir  Launcelot 
called  the  hermit  to  him,  and  prayed  him  for  charity  to  hear  his  confession. 
1  With  a  good  will,'  said  the  good  man." 

But  many  of  the  hermitages  were  erected  along  the  great  highways  of 
the  country,  and  especially  at  bridges  and  fords,*  apparently  with  the 
express  view  of  their  being  serviceable  to  travellers.  One  of  the  hermit- 
saints  set  up  as  a  pattern  for  their  imitation  was  St.  Julian,  who,  with  his 
wife,  devoted  his  property  and  life  to  showing  hospitality  to  travellers ; 
and  the  hermit  who  is  always  associated  in  the  legends  and  pictures  with 
St.  Christopher,  is  represented  as  holding  out  his  torch  or  lantern  to  light 
the  giant  ferryman,  as  he  transports  his  passengers  across  the  dangerous 
ford  by  which  the  hermitage  was  built.  When  hostelries,  where  the 
traveller  could  command  entertainment  for  hire,  were  to  be  found  only  in 
the  great  towns,  the  religious  houses  were  the  chief  resting-places  of  the 
traveller ;  not  only  the  conventual  establishments,  but  the  country  clergy 
also  were  expected  to  be  given  to  hospitality,  t  But  both  monasteries  and 
country  parsonages  often  lay  at  a  distance  of  miles  of  miry  and  intricate 
by-road  off  the  highway.  We  must  picture  this  state  of  the  country  and  of 
society  to  ourselves,  before  we  can  appreciate  the  intentions  of  those  who 
founded  these  hospitable  establishments ;  we  must  try  to  imagine  ourselves 
travellers,  getting  belated  in  a  dreary  part  of  the  road,  where  it  ran  over  a 
bleak  wold,  or  dived  through  a  dark  forest,  or  approached  an  unknown 
ford,  before  we  can  appreciate  the  gratitude  of  those  who  suddenly  caught 

*  Blomfield,  in  his  "History  of  Norfolk,"  1532,  says,  "It  is  to  be  observed  that 
hermitages  were  erected,  for  the  most  part,  near  great  bridges  (see  Mag.  Brit.,  On  War- 
wickshire, p.  597,  Dugdale,  &c,  and  BadwelTs  •  Description  of  Tottenham ')  and  high 
roads,  as  appears  from  this,  and  those  at  Brandon,  Downham,  Stow  Bardolph,  in  Norfolk, 
and  Erith,  in  the  Isle  of  Ely,  &c." 

t  In  the  settlement  of  the  vicarage  of  Kelvedou,  Essex,  when  the  rectory  was  impro- 
priated to  the  abbot  and  convent  of  Westminster,  in  the  fourteenth  century,  it  was 
exptessly  ordered  that  the  convent,  besides  providing  the  vicar  a  suitable  house,  should 
also  provide  a  hall  for  receiving  guests.  See  subsequent  chapter  on  the  Seculai 

104         The  Hermits  and  Recluses  of  the  Middle  Ages, 

the  light  from  the  hermit's  window,  or  heard  the  faint  tinkle  of  his  chapel 
bell  ringing  for  vespers. 

Such  incidents  occur  frequently  in  the  romances.  Here  is  an  example  :— 
"  Sir  Launcelot  rode  all  that  day  and  all  that  night  in  a  forest ;  and  at  the 
last,  he  was  ware  of  an  hermitage  and  a  chapel  that  stood  between  two 
cliffs  ;  and  then  he  heard  a  little  bell  ring  to  mass,  and  thither  he  rode, 
and  alighted,  and  tied  his  horse  to  the  gate,  and  heard  mass."  Again : 
"  Sir  Gawayne  rode  till  he  came  to  an  hermitage,  and  there  he  found  the 
good  man  saying  his  even-song  of  our  Lady.  And  there  Sir  Gawayne 
asked  harbour  for  charity,  and  the  good  man  granted  it  him  gladly." 

We  shall,  perhaps,  most  outrage  the  popular  idea  of  a  hermit,  when  we 
assert  that  hermits  sometimes  lived  in  towns.  The  extract  from  "  Piers 
Ploughman's  Vision,"  already  quoted,  tells  us  of — 

"  Eremites  that  inhabit  them 
In  boroughs  among  brewers." 

The  difficulty  of  distinguishing  between  hermits  proper  and  recluses 
becomes  very  perplexing  in  this  part  of  our  subject.  There  is  abundant 
proof,  which  we  shall  have  occasion  to  give  later,  that  recluses,  both  male 
and  female,  usually  lived  in  towns  and  villages,  and  these  recluses  are  some- 
times called  hermits,  as  well  as  by  their  more  usual  and  peculiar  name  of 
anchorites  and  anchoresses.  But  we  are  inclined  to  the  opinion,  that  not  all 
the  male  solitaries  who  lived  in  towns  were  recluses.  The  author  of  "  Piers 
Ploughman's  Vision  "  speaks  of  the  eremites  who  inhabited  in  boroughs  as 
if  they  were  of  the  same  class  as  those  who  lived  by  the  highways,  and  who 
ought  to  have  lived  in  the  wildernesses,  like  St.  Anthony.  The  theory 
under  which  it  was  made  possible  for  a  solitary,  an  eremite,  a  man  of  the 
desert,  to  live  in  a  town,  was,  that  a  churchyard  formed  a  solitary  place 
— a  desert — within  the  town.  The  curious  history  which  we  are  going  to 
relate,  seems  to  refer  to  hermits,  not  to  recluses.  The  Mayor  of  Sudbury, 
under  date  January  28,  1433,  petitioned  the  Bishop  of  Norwich,  setting 
forth  that  the  bishop  had  refused  to  admit  "  Richard  Appleby,  of  Sudbury, 
conversant  with  John  Levynton,  of  the  same  town,  heremyte,  to  the  order 
of  Hermits,  unless  he  was  sure  to  be  inhabited  in  a  solitary  place  where 

Hermitages.  105 

virtues  might  be  increased,  and  vice  exiled ;  "  and  that  therefore  "  we  have 
granted  hym,  be  the  assent  of  all  the  sayd  parish  and  cherch  reves,  to  be 
inhabited  with  the  sayd  John  Levynton  in  his  solitary  place  and  hermytage, 
whych  y*  is  made  at  the  cost  of  the  parysh,  in  the  cherchyard  of  St. 
Gregory  Cherche,  to  dwellen  togedyr  as  (long  as)  yey  liven,  or  whiche  of 
them  longest  liveth ; "  and  thereupon  the  mayor  prays  the  bishop  to  admit 
Richard  Appleby  to  the  order. 

This  curious  incident  of  two  solitaries  living  together  has  a  parallel  in 
the  romance  of  "  King  Arthur."  When  the  bold  Sir  Bedivere  had  lost  his 
lord  King  Arthur,  he  rode  away,  and,  after  some  adventures,  came  to  a 
chapel  and  an  hermitage  between  two  hills,  "  and  he  prayed  the  hermit 
that  he  might  abide  there  still  with  him,  to  live  with  fasting  and  prayers. 
So  Sir  Bedivere  abode  there  still  with  the  hermit ;  and  there  Sir  Bedivere 
put  upon  him  poor  clothes,  and  served  the  hermit  full  lowly  in  fasting  and 
in  prayers."  And  afterwards  (as  we  have  already  related)  Sir  Launcelot 
"  rode  all  that  day  and  all  that  night  in  a  forest  And  at  the  last  he  was 
ware  of  an  hermitage  and  a  chapel  that  stood  between  two  cliffs,  and  then 
he  heard  a  little  bell  ring  to  mass  ;  and  thither  he  rode,  and  alighted,  and 
tied  his  horse  to  the  gate  and  heard  mass."  He  had  stumbled  upon 
the  hermitage  in  which  Sir  Bedivere  was  living.  And  when  Sir  Bedivere 
had  made  himself  known,  and  had  "  told  him  his  tale  all  whole,"  "  Sir 
Launcelot's  heart  almost  burst  for  sorrow,  and  Sir  Launcelot  threw  abroad 
his  armour,  and  said, — '  Alas  !  who  may  trust  this  world  ? '  And  then  he 
kneeled  down  on  his  knees,  and  prayed  the  hermit  for  to  shrive  him  and 
assoil  him.  And  then  he  besought  the  hermit  that  he  might  be  his 
brother.  And  he  put  an  habit  upon  Sir  Launcelot,  and  there  he  served 
God  day  and  night  with  prayers  and  fastings."  And  afterwards  Sir  Bors 
came  in  the  same  way.  And  within  half  a  year  there  was  come  Sir  Galahad, 
Sir  Galiodin,  Sir  Bleoberis,  Sir  Villiers,  Sir  Clarus,  and  Sir  Gahalatine. 
*  So  these  seven  noble  knights  abode  there  still :  and  when  they  saw  that 
Sir  Launcelot  had  taken  him  unto  such  perfection,  they  had  no  list  to 
depart,  but  took  such  an  habit  as  he  had.  Thus  they  endured  in  great 
penance  six  years,  and  then  Sir  Launcelot  took  the  habit  of  priesthood, 
and  twelve  months  he  sung  the  mass ;  and  there  was  none  of  these  other 

106         The  Hermits  and  Recluses  of  the  Middle  Ages. 

knights  but  that  they  read  in  books,  and  helped  for  to  sing  mass,  and  ring 
bells,  and  did  lowly  all  manner  of  service.  And  so  their  horses  went 
where  they  would,  for  they  took  no  regard  in  worldly  riches."  And  after  a 
little  time  Sir  Launcelot  died  at  the  hermitage  :  "  then  was  there  weeping 
and  wringing  of  hands,  and  the  greatest  dole  they  made  that  ever  made 
man.  And  on  the  morrow  the  bishop-hermit  sung  his  mass  of  requiem." 
The  accompanying  wood-cut,  from  one  of  the  small  compartments  at  the 
bottom  of  Cosimo  Roselli's  picture  of  St.  Jerome,  from  which  we  have 
already  taken  the  figure  of    St.    Damasus,  may  serve   to  illustrate  this 

Funeral  Service  of  a  Hermit. 

incident.  It  represents  a  number  of  hermits  mourning  over  one  of  their 
brethren,  while  a  pries^  in  the  robes  proper  to  his  office,  stands  at  the 
head  of  the  bier  and  says  prayers,  and  his  deacon  stands  at  the  foot,  hold- 
ing a  processional  cross.  The  contrast  between  the  robes  of  the  priest 
and  those  of  the  hermits  is  lost  in  the  woodcut ;  in  the  original  the  priest's 
cope  and  amys  are  coloured  red,  while  those  of  the  hermits  are  tinted  with 
light  brown. 

If  the  reader  has  wondered  how  the  one  hermitage  could  accommodate 
these  seven  additional  habitants,  the  romancer  does  not  forget  to  satisfy 

Herm  itages.  1 07 

his  curiosity  :  a  few  pages  farther  we  read — "  So  at  the  season  of  the  night 
they  went  all  to  their  beds,  for  they  all  lay  in  one  chamber."  It  was  not 
very  unusual  for  hermitages  to  be  built  for  more  than  one  occupant ;  but 
probably,  in  all  such  cases,  each  hermit  had  his  own  cell,  adjoining  their 
common  chapel.  This  was  the  original  arrangement  of  the  hermits  of  the 
Thebais  in  their  laura.  The  great  difference  between  a  hermitage  with 
more  than  one  hermit,  and  a  small  cell  of  one  of  the  other  religious  orders, 
was  that  in  such  a  cell  one  monk  or  friar  would  have  been  the  prior,  and 
the  others  subject  to  him;  but  each  hermit  was  independent  of  any 
authority  on  the  part  of  the  other;  he  was  subject  only  to  the  obligation 
of  his  rule,  and  the  visitation  of  his  bishop. 

The  life  *  of  the  famous  hermit,  Richard  of  Hampole,  which  has  lately 
been  published  for  the  first  time  by  the  Early  English  Text  Society,  will 
enable  us  to  realise  in  some  detail  the  character  and  life  of  a  mediaeval  hermit 
of  the  highest  type.  Saint  Richard  was  born  \  in  the  village  of  Thornton, 
in  Yorkshire.  At  a  suitable  age  he  was  sent  to  school  by  the  care  of  his 
parents,  and  afterwards  was  sent  by  Richard  Neville,  Archdeacon  of  Durham, 
to  Oxford,  where  he  gave  himself  specially  to  theological  study.  At  the  age 
of  nineteen,  considering  the  uncertainty  of  life  and  the  awfulness  of  judg- 
ment, especially  to  those  who  waste  life  in  pleasure  or  spend  it  in  acquiring 
wealth,  and  fearing  lest  he  should  fall  into  such  courses,  he  left  Oxford  and 
returned  to  his  father's  house.  One  day  he  asked  of  his  sister  two  of  her 
gowns  (tunicas),  one  white,  the  other  grey,  and  a  cloak  and  hood  of  his 
father's.  He  cut  up  the  two  gowns,  and  fashioned  out  of  them  and  of  the 
hooded  cloak  an  imitation  of  a  hermit's  habit,  and  next  day  he  went  off 
into  a  neighbouring  wood  bent  upon  living  a  hermit  life.  Soon  after,  on 
the  vigil  of  the  Assumption  of  the  Blessed  Virgin,  he  went  to  a  certain 
church,  and  knelt  down  to  pray  in  the  place  which  the  wife  of  a  certain 
worthy  knight,  John  de  Dalton,  was  accustomed  to  occupy.  When  the 
lady  came  to  church,  her  servants  would  have  turned  out  the  intruder,  but 
she  would  not  permit  it.     When  vespers  were  over  and  he  rose  from  his 

*  From  the  "  Officium  et  Legenda  de  Vita  Ricardi  Rolle.' 
t  When  is  not  stated ;  he  died  in  1349. 

108         The  Hermits  and  Recluses  of  the  Middle  Ages. 

knees,  the  sons  of  Sir  John,  who  were  students  at  Oxford,  recognised  him 
as  the  son  of  William  Rolle,  whom  they  had  known  at  Oxford.  Next  day 
Richard  again  went  to  the  same  church,  and  without  any  bidding  put  on  a 
surplice  and  sang  mattins  and  the  office  of  the  mass  with  the  rest.  And 
when  the  gospel  was  to  be  read  at  mass,  he  sought  the  blessing  of  the 
priest,  and  then  entered  the  pulpit  and  preached  a  sermon  to  the  people  of 
such  wonderful  edification  that  many  were  touched  with  compunction  even 
to  tears,  and  all  said  they  had  never  heard  before  a  sermon  of  such  power 
and  efficacy.  After  mass  Sir  John  Dalton  invited  him  to  dinner.  When 
he  entered  into  the  manor  he  took  his  place  in  a  ruined  building,  and  would 
not  enter  the  hall,  according  to  the  evangelical  precept,  "  When  thou  art 
bidden  to  a  wedding  sit  down  in  the  lowest  room,  and  when  he  that  hath 
bidden  thee  shall  see  it  he  will  say  to  thee,  Friend,  go  up  higher ;" 
which  was  fulfilled  in  him,  for  the  knight  made  him  sit  at  table  with 
his  own  sons.  But  he  kept  such  silence  at  dinner  that  he  did  not 
speak  one  word ;  and  when  he  had  eaten  sufficiently  he  rose  before  they 
took  away  the  table  and  would  have  departed,  but  the  knight  told 
him  this  was  contrary  to  custom,  and  made  him  sit  down  again.  After 
dinner  the  knight  had  some  private  conversation  with  him,  and  being 
satisfied  that  he  was  not  a  madman,  but  really  seemed  to  have  the  voca- 
tion to  a  hermit's  life,  he  clothed  him  at  his  own  cost  in  a  hermit's  habit, 
and  retained  him  a  long  time  in  his  own  house,  giving  him  a  solitary 
chamber  {locum  mansionis  solitaries)*  and  providing  him  with  all  neces- 
saries. Our  hermit  then  gave  himself  up  to  ascetic  discipline  and  a 
contemplative  life.  He  wrote  books ;  he  counselled  those  who  came  to 
him.  He  did  both  at  the  same  time ;  for  one  afternoon  the  lady  of  the  house 

*  Afterwards  it  is  described  as  a  cell  at  a  distance  from  the  family,  where  he  was 
accustomed  to  sit  solitary  and  to  pass  his  time  in  contemplation.  In  doing  this  Sir  John 
Dalton  and  his  wife  were,  according  to  the  sentiment  of  the  time,  following  the  example 
of  the  Shunammite  and  her  husband,  who  made  for  Elisha  a  little  chamber  on  the  wall, 
and  set  for  him  there  a  bed,  and  a  table,  and  a  stool,  and  a  candlestick  (2  Kings  iv.  10). 
The  Knight  of  La  Tour  Landry  illustrates  this  when  in  one  of  his  tales  (ch.  xcv.)  he 
describes  the  Shunammite's  act  in  the  language  of  mediaeval  custom  :  "  This  good 
woman  had  gret  devocion  unto  this  holy  man,  and  required  and  praied  hym  for  to  come 
to  her  burghe  and  loged  in  her  hous,  and  her  husbonde  and  she  made  a  chambre  soli- 
taire for  this  holy  man,  where  as  he  might  use  his  devocions  and  serve  God." 

Hermitages.  1 09 

came  to  him  with  many  other  persons  and  found  him  writing  very  rapidly, 
and  begged  him  to  stop  writing  and  speak  some  words  of  edification  to 
them ;  and  he  began  at  once  and  continued  to  address  them  for  two  hours 
with  admirable  exhortations  to  cultivate  virtue  and  to  put  away  worldly 
vanities,  and  to  increase  the  love  of  their  hearts  for  God ;  but  at  the  same 
time  he  went  on  writing  as  fast  as  before.  He  used  to  be  so  absorbed 
in  prayer  that  his  friends  took  off  his  torn  cloak,  and  when  it  had  been 
mended  put  it  on  him  again,  without  his  knowing  it.  Soon  we  hear  of  his 
having  temptations  like  those  which  assailed  St.  Anthony,  the  devil 
tempting  him  in  the  form  of  a  beautiful  woman.  He  was  specially  desirous 
to  help  recluses  and  those  who  required  spiritual  consolation,  and  who 
were  vexed  by  evil  spirits. 

At  length  Lady  Dalton  died,  and  (whether  as  a  result  of  this  is  not  stated) 
the  hermit  left  his  cell  and  began  to  move  from  place  to  place.  One  time  he 
came  near  the  cell  of  Dame  Margaret,  the  recluse  of  Anderby  in  Richmond- 
shire,  and  was  told  that  she  was  dumb  and  suffering  from  some  strange 
disease,  and  went  to  her.  And  he  sat  down  at  the  window  of  the  house  of 
the  recluse,*  and  when  they  had  eaten,  the  recluse  felt  a  desire  to  sleep ; 
and  being  oppressed  with  sleep  her  head  fell  towards  the  window  at  which 
St.  Richard  was  reclined.  And  when  she  had  slept  a  little,  leaning  some- 
what on  Richard,  suddenly  she  was  seized  with  a  convulsion,  and  awoke 
with  her  power  of  speech  restored. 

He  wrote  many  works  of  ascetic  and  mystical  divinity  which  were 
greatly  esteemed.  The  Early  English  Text  Society  has  published  some 
specimens  in  the  work  from  which  these  notices  are  gathered,  which  show 
that  his  reputation  as  a  devotional  writer  was  not  undeserved.  At  length 
he  settled  at  Hampole,  where  was  a  Cistercian  nunnery.  Here  he  died, 
and  in  the  church  of  the  nunnery  he  was  buried.  We  are  indebted  for  the 
Officium  and  Legenda  from  which  we  have  gathered  this  outline  of  his  life 
to  the  pious  care  of  the  nuns  of  Hampole,  to  whom  the  fame  of  Richard's 
sanctity  was  a  source  of  great  profit  and  honour.     That  he  had  a  line  of 

*  Either  the  little  window  through  which  she  communicated  with  the  outer  world,  or 
perhaps  (as  suggested  further  on)  a  window  between  her  cell  and  a  guest-chamber  in 
which  she  received  visitors. 

no  The  Hermits  and  Recluses  of  the  Middle  Ages. 

successors  in  his  anchorage  is  indicated  by  the  fact  hereafter  stated 
(p.  128),  that  in  1415  a.d.,  Lord  Scrope  left  by  will  a  bequest  to  Elizabeth, 
late  servant  to  the  anchoret  of  Hampole. 

There  are  indications  that  these  hermitages  were  sometimes  mere  bothies 
of  branches ;  there  is  a  representation  of  one,  from  which  we  here  give  a 
woodcut,  in  an  illuminated  MS.  romance  of  Sir  Launcelot,  of  early 
fourteenth-century  date  (British  Museum,  Add.  10,293,  folio  118  v.,  date 
13 1 6) :  we  have  already  noticed  another  of  wattled  work.*     There  are  also 

Sir  Launcelot  and  a  Hermit. 

caves  +  here  and  there  in  the  country  which  are  said  by  tradition  to  have 
been  hermitages  :  one  is  described  in  the  Archaeological  Journal,  vol.  iv., 
p.  150.  It  is  a  small  cave,  not  easy  of  access,  in  the  side  of  a  hill  called 
Cardiff  Tor,  near  Rowsley,  a  little  miserable  village  not  far  from  Haddon 
Hall.  In  a  recess,  on  the  right  side  as  you  enter  the  cave,  is  a  crucifix 
about  four  feet  high,  sculptured  in  bold  relief  in  the  red  grit  rock  out  of 

*  A  hermitage,  partly  of  stone,  partly  of  timber,  may  be  seen  in  the  beautiful  MS. 
Egerton  1,147,  f.  218  v. 

t  A  very  good  representation  of  a  cave  hermitage  may  be  found  in  the  late  MS. 
Egerton,  2,125,  f.  206  v.  Also  in  the  Harl.  MS.  1,527,  at  f.  14  v.,  is  a  hermit  in  a  cave ; 
and  in  Royal  10  E  IV.  f.  130,  here  a  man  is  bringing  the  hermit  food  and  drink. 



which  the  cave  is  hollowed  ;  and  close  to  it,  on  the  right,  is  a  rude  niche, 
perhaps  to  hold  a  lamp. 

St.  Robert's  Chapel,  at  Knaresborough,  Yorkshire,  is  a  very  excellent 
example  of  a  hermitage.*  It  is  hewn  out  of  the  rock,  at  the  bottom  of  a 
cliff,  in  the  corner  of  a  sequestered  dell.  The  exterior,  a  view  of  which  is 
given  below,  presents  us  with  a  simply  arched  doorway  at  the  bottom  of 

Exterior  View  of  St.  Robert's  Chapel,  Knaresborough. 

the  rough  cliff,  with  an  arched  window  on  the  left,  and  a  little  square 
opening  between,  which  looks  like  the  little  square  window  of  a  recluse. 
Internally  we  find  the  cell  sculptured  into  the  fashion  of  a  little  chapel, 
with  a  groined  ceiling,  the  groining  shafts  and  ribs  well  enough  designed, 
but  rather  rudely  executed.  There  is  a  semi-octagonal  apsidal  recess  at 
the  east  end,  in  which  the  altar  stands  ;  a  piscina  and  a  credence  and  stone 
seat  in  the  north  wall ;  a  row  of  sculptured  heads  in  the  south  wall,  and  a 
grave-stone  in  the  middle  of  the  floor.     This  chapel  appears  to  have  been 

•  Eugene  Aram's  famous  murder  was  perpetrated  within  it. 
description  of  the  scene  in  his  "  Eugene  Aram." 

See  Sir  E.  L.  Bulwer's 

112         The  Hermits  and  Recluses  of  the  Middle  Ages. 

also  the  hermit's  living  room.  The  view  of  the  exterior,  and  of  the  interior 
and  ground-plan,  are  from  Carter's  "Ancient  Architecture,"  pi.  lxvii. 
Another  hermitage,  whose  chapel  is  very  similar  to  this,  is  at  Warkworth. 
It  is  half-way  up  the  cliff,  on  one  side  of  a  deep,  romantic  valley,  through 
which  runs  the  river  Coquet,  overhung  with  woods.  The  chapel  is  hewn 
out  of  the  rock,  18  feet  long  by  7^  wide,  with  a  little  entrance-porch  on 
the  south,  also  hewn  in  the  rock ;  and,  on  the  farther  side,  a  long,  narrow 

Interior  View  of  St.  Robert's  Chapel. 

apartment,  with  a  small  altar  at  the  east  end,  and  a  window  looking  upon 
the  chapel  altar.  This  long  apartment  was  probably  the  hermit's  living 
room  ;  but  when  the  Earls  of  Northumberland  endowed  the  hermitage  for 
a  chantry  priest,  the  priest  seems  to  have  lived  in  a  small  house,  with  a 
garden  attached,  at  the  foot  of  the  cliff.  The  chapel  is  groined,  and  has 
Gothic  windows,  very  like  that  of  Knaresborough.  A  minute  description 
of  this  hermitage,  and  of  the  legend  connected  with  it,  is  given  in  a  poem 
called  "The  History  of  Warkworth  "  (4*0,  1775),  and  in  a  letter  in  Grose's 
"Antiquities,"  vol.  iii.,  is  a  ground-plan  of  the  chapel  and  its  appurtenances. 



A  view  of  the  exterior,  showing  its  picturesque  situation,  will  be  found 
in  Heme's  "Antiquities  of  Great  Britain,"  pi.  9. 

There  is  a  little  cell,  or  oratory,  called  the  hermitage,  cut  out  of 
the  face  of  a  rock  near  Dale  Abbey,  Derbyshire.  On  the  south  side 
are  the  door  and  three  windows ;  at  the  east  end,  an  altar  standing 
upon  a  raised  platform,  both  cut  out  of  the  rock  ;  there  are  little  niches  in 
the  walls,  and  a  stone  seat  all  round.* 

There  is  another  hermitage  of  three  cells  at  Wetheral,  near  Carlisle, 
called  Wetheral  Safeguard,  or  St.  Constantine's  Cells — Wetheral  Priory  was 
dedicated  to  St.  Constantine,  and  this  hermitage  seems  to  have  belonged  to 
the  priory.  It  is  not  far  from  Wetheral 
Priory,  in  the  face  of  a  rock  standing 
100  feet  perpendicularly  out  of  the 
river  Eden,  which  washes  its  base ; 
the  hill  rising  several  hundred  feet 
higher  still  above  this  rocky  escarpment. 
The  hermitage  is  at  a  height  of  40 
feet  from  the  river,  and  can  only  be 
approached  from  above  by  a  narrow 
and  difficult  path  down  the  face  of  the 
precipice.  It  consists  of  three  square 
cells,  close  together,  about  10  feet 
square  and  8  feet  high ;  each  with 
a  short  passage  leading  to  it,  which  increases  its  total  length  to  about  20 
feet.  These  passages  communicate  with  a  littie  platform  of  rock  in  front 
of  the  cells.  At  a  lower  level  than  this  platform,  by  about  7  feet,  there 
is  a  narrow  gallery  built  up  of  masonry;  the  door  to  the  hermitage 
is  at  one  end  of  it,  so  that  access  to  the  cells  can  only  be  obtained 
by  means  of  a  ladder  from  this  gallery  to  the  platform  of  rock  7  feet 
above  it.  In  the  front  of  the  gallery  are  three  windows,  opposite  to  the 
three  cells,  to  give  them  light,  and  one  chimney.  An  engraving  will  be 
found  in  Hutchinson's  "  History  of  Cumberland,"  vol.  i.  p.   160,  which 

Ground-Plan  of  St.  Robert's  Chapel. 

*  See  view  in  Stukeley's  "  Itin.  Curios.,"  pi.  14. 

H4         The  Hermits  and  Recluses  of  the  Middle  Ages, 

shows  the  picturesque  scene — the  rocky  hill-side,  with  the  river  washing 
round  its  base,  and  the  three  windows  of  the  hermitage,  half-way  up, 
peeping  through  the  foliage  ;  there  is  also  a  careful  plan  of  the  cells  in  the 

A  chapel,  and  a  range  of  rooms — which  communicate  with  one  another, 
and  form  a  tolerably  commodious  house  of  two  floors,  are  excavated  out  of 
a  rocky  hill-side,  called  Blackstone  Rock,  which  forms  the  bank  of  the 
Severn,  near  Bewdley,  Worcestershire.  A  view  of  the  exterior  of  the  rock, 
and  a  plan  and  section  of  the  chambers,  are  given  both  in  Stukeley's 

"Itinerarium  Curiosum,"  pis.    13   and    14,  and   in  Nash's  "History  of 
Worcestershire,"  vol.  ii.  p.  48. 

At  Lenton,  near  Nottingham,  there  is  a  chapel  and  a  range  of  cells 
excavated  out  of  the  face  of  a  semicircular  sweep  of  rock,  which  crops  out 
on  the  bank  of  the  river  Leen.  The  river  winds  round  the  other  semicircle, 
leaving  a  space  of  greensward  between  the  rock  and  the  river,  upon  which  the 
cells  open.  Now,  the  whole  place  is  enclosed,  and  used  as  a  public  garden 
and  bowling-green,  its  original  features  being,  however,  preserved  with  a 
praiseworthy  appreciation  of  their  interest.  In  former  days  this  hermitage 
was  just  within  the  verge  of  the  park  of  the  royal  castle  of  Nottingham ;  it 

Hermitages.  115 

was  doubtless  screened  by  the  trees  of  the  park ;  and  its  inmates  might  pace 
to  and  fro  on  their  secluded  grass-plot,  fenced  in  by  the  rock  and  the  river 
from  every  intruding  foot,  and  yet  in  full  view  of  the  walls  and  towers  of 
the  castle,  with  the  royal  banner  waving  from  its  keep,  and  catch  a  glimpse 
of  the  populous  borough,  and  see  the  parties  of  knights  and  ladies  prance 
over  the  level  meadows  which  stretched  out  to  the  neighbouring  Trent 
like  a  green  carpet,  embroidered  in  spring  and  autumn  by  the  purple 
crocus,  which  grows  wild  there  in  myriads.  Stukeley,  in  his  "  Itinerarium 
Curiosum,"  pi.  39,  gives  a  view  and  ground-plan  of  these  curious  cells. 
Carter  also  figures  them  in  his  "  Ancient  Architecture,"  pi.  12,  and  gives 
details  of  a  Norman  shaft  and  arch  in  the  chapel. 

But  nearly  all  the  hermitages  which  we  read  of  in  the  romances,  or  see 

P depicted  in  the  illuminations  and  paintings,  or  find  noticed  in  ancient 
historical  documents,  are  substantial  buildings  of  stone  or  timber.  Here 
is  one  from  folio  56  of  the  "  History  of  Launcelot  "  (Add.  10,293) :  tne 
hermit  stands  at  the  door  of  his  house,  giving  his  parting  benediction  to 
Sir  Launcelot,  who,  with  his  attendant  physician,  is  taking  his  leave  after  a 
night's  sojourn  at  the  hermitage.  In  the  paintings  of  the  Campo  Santo,  at 
Pisa  (engraved  in  Mrs.  Jameson's  "  Sacred  and  Legendary  Art "),  which 
represent  the  hermits  of  the  Egyptian  desert,  some  of  the  hermitages  are 
caves,  some  are  little  houses  of  stone.  In  Caxton's  "  Vitas  Patrum  "  the 
hermitages  are  little  houses  j  one  has  a  stepped  gable ;  another  is  like  a 
gateway,  with  a  room  over  it*  They  were  founded  and  built,  and  often 
endowed,  by  the  same  men  who  founded  chantries,  and  built  churches,  and 
endowed  monasteries ;  and  from  the  same  motives  of  piety,  charity,  or 
superstition.  And  the  founders  seem  often  to  have  retained  the  patronage 
of  the  hermitages,  as  of  valuable  benefices,  in  their  own  hands.f  A  hermit- 

*  Suggesting  the  room  so  often  found  over  a  church  porch. 

f  In  the  year  1490,  a  dispute  having  arisen  between  the  abbot  and  convent  of  Easby 
and  the  Grey  Friars  of  Richmond,  on  the  one  part,  and  the  burgesses  of  Richmond,  on 
the  other  part,  respecting  the  disposition  of  the  goods  of  Margaret  Richmond,  late 
anchoress  of  the  same  town,  it  was  at  length  settled  that  the  goods  should  remain  with 
the  warden  and  brethren  of  the  friars,  after  that  her  debts  and  the  repair  of  the  anchorage 
were  defrayed,  "  because  the  said  anchoress  took  her  habit  of  the  said  friars,"  and  that 
the  abbot  and  convent  should   have  the  disposition  of  the   then  anchoress,    A'isoa 

1 1 6         The  Hermits  and  Recluses  of  the  Middle  Age 

age  was,  in  fact,  a  miniature  monastery,  inhabited  by  one  religious,  who 
was  abbot,  and  prior,  and  convent,  all  in  one :  sometimes  also  by  a  chap- 
lain,* where  the  hermit  was  not  a  priest,  and  by  several  lay  brethren,  i.e. 
servants.  It  had  a  chapel  of  its  own,  in  which  divine  service  was  performed 
daily.  It  had  also  the  apartments  necessary  for  the  accommodation  of 
the  hermit,  and  his  chaplain — when  one  lived  in  the  hermitage — and  his 
servants,  and  the  necessary  accommodation  for  travellers  besides  ;  and  it 
had  often,  perhaps  generally,  its  court-yard  and  garden. 

The  chapel  of  the  hermitage  seems  not  to  have  been  appropriated  solely 
to  the  performance  of  divine  offices,  but  to  have  been  made  useful  for 
other  more  secular  purposes  also.  Indeed,  the  churches  and  chapels  in 
the  Middle  Ages  seem  often  to  have  been  used  for  great  occasions  of 
a  semi-religious  character,  when  a  large  apartment  was  requisite,  e.g.  for 
holding  councils,  for  judicial  proceedings,  and  the  like.  Godric  of  Finchale, 
a  hermit  who  lived  about  the  time  of  Henry  II., t  had  two  chapels  adjoin- 
ing his  cell ;  one  he  called  by  the  name  of  St.  John  Baptist,  the  other  after 
the  Blessed  Virgin.  He  had  a  kind  of  common  room,  "  communis 
domus,"  in  which  he  cooked  his  food  and  saw  visitors;  but  he  lived  chiefly, 
day  and  night,  in  the  chapel  of  St.  John,  removing  his  bed  to  the  chapel 
of  St.  Mary  at  times  of  more  solemn  devotion. 

In  an  illumination  on  folio  153  of  the  "History  of  Launcelot,"  already 
quoted  (British  Mus.,  Add.  10,293),  is  a  picture  of  King  Arthur  taking 

Comeston,  after  her  decease ;  and  so  to  continue  for  evermore  between  the  said  abbot 
and  warden,  as  it  happens  that  the  anchoress  took  her  habit  of  religion.  And  that  the 
burgesses  shall  have  the  nomination  and  free  election  of  the  said  anchoress  for  evermore 
from  time  to  time  when  it  happens  to  be  void,  as  they  have  had  without  time  of  mind. 
(Test.  Ebor.  ii.  115.) 

*  In  June  5,  1356,  Edward  III.  granted  to  brother  Regnier,  hermit  of  the  Chapel  of 
St.  Mary  Magdalen,  without  Salop,  a  certain  plot  of  waste  called  Shelcrosse,  contiguous 
to  the  chapel,  containing  one  acre,  to  hold  the  same  to  him  and  his  successors,  hermits 
there,  for  their  habitation,  and  to  find  a  chaplain  to  pray  in  the  chapel  for  the  king's  soul, 
&c.  (Owen  and  Blakeway's  "History  of  Shrewsbury,"  vol.  ii.  p.  165).  "Perhaps," 
say  our  authors,  "  this  was  the  eremitical  habitation  in  the  wood  of  Suttona  (Sutton 
being  a  village  just  without  Salop),  which  is  recorded  elsewhere  to  have  been  given  by 
Richard,  the  Dapifer  of  Chester,  to  the  monks  of  Salop." 

t  "Vita  S.  Godrici,"  published  by  the  Surtees  Society. 

Spenser  s  Hermit.  1 1 7 

counsel  with  a  hermit  in  his  hermitage.  The  building  in  which  they  are 
seated  has  a  nave  and  aisles,  a  rose-window  in  its  gable,  and  a  bell-turret, 
and  seems  intended  to  represent  the  chapel  of  the  hermitage.  Again,  at 
folio  107  of  the  same  MS.  is  a  picture  of  a  hermit  talking  to  a  man, 
with  the  title, — "Ensi  y  come  une  hermites  prole  en  une  chapele  de 
son  hermitage," — "  How  a  hermit  conversed  in  the  chapel  of  his  hermitage. " 
It  may,  perhaps,  have  been  in  the  chapel  that  the  hermit  received  those 
who  sought  his  counsel  on  spiritual  or  on  secular  affairs. 

In  addition  to  the  references  which  have  already  been  given  to  illus- 
trations of  the  subject  in  the  illuminations  of  MSS.,  we  call  the  special 
attention  of  the  student  to  a  series  of  pictures  illustrating  a  mediaeval 
story  of  which  a  hermit  is  the  hero,  in  the  late  thirteenth  century  MS. 
Royal  10  E  IV. ;  it  begins  at  folio  113  v.,  and  runs  on  for  many  pages, 
and  is  full  of  interesting  passages. 

We  also  add  a  few  lines  from  Lydgate's  unpublished  "Life  of  St 
Edmund,"  as  a  typical  picture  of  a  hermit,  drawn  in  the  second  quarter  of 
the  fifteenth  century : — 

"  —  holy  Ffremund  though  he  were  yonge  of  age, 
And  ther  he  bilte  a  litel  hermitage 
Be  side  a  ryver  with  al  his  besy  peyne, 
He  and  his  fellawis  that  were  in  nombre  tweyne. 

« *  A  litel  chapel  he  dide  ther  edifie, 
Day  be  day  to  make  in  his  praiere, 
In  the  reverence  only  off  Marie 
And  in  the  worshipe  of  her  Sone  deere, 
And  the  space  fully  off  sevene  yeere 
Hooly  Ffremund,  lik  as  it  is  founde, 
Leved  be  frut  and  rootes  off  the  grounde. 

M  Off  frutes  wilde,  his  story  doth  us  telle, 
Was  his  repast  penance  for  t'  endure, 
To  stanch  his  thurst  drank  water  off  the  welle 
And  eet  acorns  to  sustene  his  nature, 
Kernelles  off  nods  [nuts]  when  he  myhte  hem  recure. 
To  God  alway  doying  reverence, 
What  ever  he  sent  took  it  in  patience." 

And  in  concluding  this  chapter  let  us  call  to  mind  Spenser's  description 

1 1 8         The  Hermits  and  Recluses  of  the  Middle  Ages. 

of  a  typical  hermit  and  hermitage,  while  the  originals  still  lingered  in  the 
living  memory  of  the  people  : — 

"  At  length  they  chaunst  to  meet  upon  the  way 
An  aged  sire,  in  long  blacke  weedes  yclad, 
His  feet  all  bare,  his  head  all  hoarie  gray, 
And  by  his  belt  his  booke  he  hanging  had  ; 
Sober  he  seemde,  and  very  sagely  sad, 
And  to  the  ground  his  eyes  were  lowly  bent, 
Simple  in  shew,  and  voide  of  malice  bad  ; 
And  all  the  way  he  prayed  as  he  went, 
And  often  knockt  his  brest  as  one  that  did  repent. 

"  He  faire  the  knight  saluted,  louting  low, 
Who  faire  him  quited,  as  that  courteous  was  ; 
And  after  asked  him  if  he  did  know 
Of  strange  adventures  which  abroad  did  pas. 
'Ah  !  my  dear  sonne,'  quoth  he,  '  how  should,  alas ! 
Silly*  old  man,  that  lives  in  hidden  cell, 
Bidding  his  beades  all  day  for  his  trespas, 
Tidings  of  war  and  worldly  trouble  tell  ? 
With  holy  father  sits  not  with  such  things  to  mell.'f 

Quoth  then  that  aged  man,  '  The  way  to  win 

Is  wisely  to  advise.     Now  day  is  spent, 

Therefore  with  me  ye  may  take  up  your  in 

For  this  same  night.'     The  knight  was  well  content; 

So  with  that  godly  father  to  his  home  he  went. 

'*  A  little  lowly  hermitage  it  was, 
Down  in  a  dale,  hard  by  a  forest's  side, 
Far  from  resort  of  people  that  did  pass 
In  traveill  to  and  froe  ;  a  little  wyde 
There  was  an  holy  chappell  edifyde, 
Wherein  the  hermite  dewly  wont  to  say 
His  holy  things,  each  morne  and  eventyde  ; 
Hereby  a  chrystall  streame  did  gently  play, 
Which  from  a  sacred  fountaine  welled  forth  alway. 

"  Arrived  there,  the  little  house  they  fill ; 
Ne  look  for  entertainment  where  none  was  ; 
Rest  is  their  feast,  and  all  things  at  their  will ; 
The  noblest  mind  the  best  contentment  has. 
With  fair  discourse  the  evening  so  they  pas  ; 
For  that  old  man  of  pleasing  words  had  store, 
And  well  could  file  his  tongue  as  smooth  as  glas ; 

•  Simple.  t  Meddle. 

A  Modern  Hermit.  119 

He  told  of  saintes  and  popes,  and  evermore 
He  strowd  an  Ave- Mary  after  and  before."* 

Faery  Queen,  i.  i,  29,  33,  34,  35. 

*  Since  the  above  was  written,  the  writer  has  had  an  opportunity  of  visiting  a 
hermitage  very  like  those  at  Warkworth,  Wetheral,  Bewdley,  and  Lenton,  still  in  use 
and  habitation.  It  is  in  the  parish  of  Limay,  near  Mantes,  a  pretty  little  town  on  the 
railway  between  Rouen  and  Paris.  Nearly  at  the  top  of  a  vine-clad  hill,  on  the  north  of 
the  valley  of  the  Seine,  in  which  Mantes  is  situated,  a  low  face  of  rock  crops  out.  In 
this  rock  have  been  excavated  a  chapel,  a  sacristy,  and  a  living-room  for  the  hermit ;  and 
the  present  hermit  has  had  a  long  refectory  added  to  his  establishment,  in  which  to  give 
his  annual  dinner  to  the  people  who  come  here,  one  day  in  the  year,  in  considerable 
numbers,  on  pilgrimage.  The  chapel  differs  from  those  which  we  have  described  in  the 
text  in  being  larger  and  ruder  ;  it  is  so  wide  that  its  rocky  roof  is  supported  by  two  rows 
of  rude  pillars,  left  standing  for  that  purpose  by  the  excavators.  There  is  an  altar  at  the 
east  end.  At  the  west  end  is  a  representation  of  the  Entombment ;  the  figure  of  our 
Lord,  lying  as  if  it  had  become  rigid  in  the  midst  of  the  writhing  of  his  agony,  is  not 
without  a  rude  force  of  expression.  One  of  the  group  of  figures  standing  about  the 
tomb  has  a  late  thirteenth-century  head  of  a  saint  placed  upon  the  body  of  a  Roman  soldier 
of  the  Renaissance  period.  There  is  a  grave-stone  with  an  incised  cross  and  inscription 
beside  the  tomb  ;  and  in  the  niche  on  the  north  side  is  a  recumbent  monumental  effigy 
of  stone,  with  the  head  and  hands  in  white  glazed  pottery.  But  whether  these  things 
were  originally  placed  in  the  hermitage,  or  whether  they  are  waifs  and  strays  from  neigh- 
bouring churches,  brought  here  as  to  an  ecclesiastical  peep-show,  it  is  hard  to  determine ; 
the  profusion  of  other  incongruous  odds  and  ends  of  ecclesiastical  relics  and  fineries,  with 
which  the  whole  place  is  furnished,  inclines  one  to  the  latter  conjecture.  There  is  a  bell- 
turret  built  on  the  rock  over  the  chapel,  and  a  chimney  peeps  through  the  hill-side,  over 
the  sacristy  fireplace.  The  platform  in  front  of  the  hermitage  is  walled  in,  and  there  is  a 
little  garden  on  the  hill  above.  The  cure-  of  Limay  performs  service  here  on  certain 
days  in  the  year.  The  hermit  will  disappoint  those  who  desire  to  see  a  modern 
example  of 

"  An  aged  sire,  in  long  black  weedes  yclad, 
His  feet  all  bare,  his  beard  all  hoarie  gray." 

He  is  an  aged  sire,  seventy-four  years  old ;  but  tor  the  rest,  he  is  simply  a  litde, 
withered,  old  French  peasant,  in  a  blue  blouse  and  wooden  sabots.  He  passes  his  days 
here  in  solitude,  unless  when  a  rare  party  of  visitors  ring  at  his  little  bell,  and,  after  due 
inspection  through  his  grille,  are  admitted  to  peep  about  his  chapel  and  his  grotto,  and 
to  share  his  fine  view  of  the  valley  shut  in  by  vine-clad  hills,  and  the  Seine  winding 
through  the  flat  meadows,  and  the  clean,  pretty  town  of  Mantes  le  jolie  in  the  middle, 
with  its  long  bridge  and  its  cathedral-like  church.     Whether  he  spends  his  time 

"  Bidding  his  beades  all  day  for  his  trespas," 

we  did  not  inquire ;  but  he  finds  the  hours  lonely.  The  good  cure  of  Limay  wishes  him 
to  sleep  in  his  hermitage,  but,  like  the  hermit-priest  of  Warkworth,  he  prefers  sleeping 
ki  the  village  at  the  foot  of  the  hilL 



[  ND  now  we  proceed  to  speak  more  particularly  of  the  recluses. 
The  old  legend  tells  us  that  John  the  Hermit,  the  contemporary 
of  St.  Anthony,  would  hold  communication  with  no  man  except 
through  the  window  of  his  cell.*  But  the  recluses  of  more  modern  days 
were  not  content  to  quote  John  the  Egyptian  as  their  founder.  As  the 
Carmelite  friars  claimed  Elijah,  so  the  recluses,  at  least  the  female 
recluses,  looked  up  to  Judith  as  the  foundress  of  their  mode  of  life,  and 
patroness  of  their  order. 

Mabillon  tells  us  that  the  first  who  made  any  formal  rule  for  recluses  was 
one  Grimlac,  who  lived  about  900  a.d.  The  principal  regulations  of  his 
rule  are,  that  the  candidate  for  reclusion,  if  a  monk,  should  signify  his 
intention  a  year  beforehand,  and  during  the  interval  should  continue  to 
live  among  his  brethren.  If  not  already  a  monk,  the  period  of  probation 
was  doubled.  The  leave  of  the  bishop  of  the  diocese  was  to  be  first 
obtained,  and  if  the  candidate  were  a  monk,  the  leave  of  his  abbot  and 
convent  also.  When  he  had  entered  his  cell,  the  bishop  was  to  put  his 
seal  upon  the  door,  which  was  never  again  to  be  opened,f  unless  for  the 

*  One  of  the  little  hermitages  represented  in  the  Campo  Santo  series  of  paintings  of 
the  old  Egyptian  hermit-saints  (engraved  in  Mrs.  Jameson's  "  Legends  of  the  Monastic 
Orders  ")  has  a  little  grated  window,  through  which  the  hermit  within  (probably  this 
John)  is  talking  with  another  outside. 

t  That  recluses  did,  however,  sometimes  quit  their  cells  on  a  great  emergency,  we 
learn  from  the  Legenda  of  Richard  of  Hampole  already  quoted,  where  we  are  told  that 
at  his  death  Dame  Margaret  Kyrkley,  the  recluse  of  Anderby,  on  hearing  of  the  saint's 
death,  hastened  to  Hampole  to  be  present  at  his  funeral. 

Female  Recluses.  1 2 1 

help  of  the  recluse  in  time  of  sickness  or  on  the  approach  of  death.  Suc- 
cessive councils  published  canons  to  regulate  this  kind  of  life.  That  of 
Millo,  in  692,  repeats  in  substance  the  rule  of  Grimlac.  That  of  Frankfort, 
in  787,  refers  to  the  recluses.  The  synod  of  Richard  de  la  Wich,  Bishop 
of  Chichester,  a.d.  1246,  makes  some  canons  concerning  them  :  "  Also  we 
ordain  to  recluses  that  they  shall  not  receive  or  keep  any  person  in  their 
houses  concerning  whom  any  sinister  suspicion  might  arise.  Also  that 
they  have  narrow  and  proper  windows ;  and  we  permit  them  to  have  secret 
communication  with  those  persons  only  whose  gravity  and  honesty  do  not 
admit  of  suspicion."  * 

Towards  the  end  of  the  twelfth  century  a  rule  for  anchorites  was  written 
by  Bishop  Richard  Pooref  of  Chichester,  and  afterwards  of  Salisbury,  who 
died  a.d.  1237,  which  throws  abundant  light  upon  their  mode  of  life;  for 
it  is  not  merely  a  brief  code  of  the  regulations  obligatory  upon  them,  but  it 
is  a  book  of  paternal  counsels,  which  enters  at  great  length,  and  in  minute 
detail,  into  the  circumstances  of  the  recluse  life,  and  will  be  of  great  use  to 
us  in  the  subsequent  part  of  this  chapter. 

There  were  doubtless  different  degrees  of  austerity  among  the  recluses ; 
but,  on  the  whole,  we  must  banish  from  our  minds  the  popular  J  idea  that 
they  inhabited  a  living  grave,  and  lived  a  life  of  the  extremest  mortification. 
Doubtless   there   were   instances   in  which  religious  enthusiasm  led  the 

•  Wilkins's  "  Concilia,"  i.  693. 

f  Several  MSS.  of  this  rule  are  known  under  different  names.  Fosbroke  quotes  one 
as  the  rule  of  Simon  de  Gandavo  (or  Simon  of  Ghent),  in  Cott.  MS.  Nero  A  xiv.; 
another  in  Bennet  College,  Cambridge ;  and  another  under  the  name  of  Alfred  Reeveslev. 
See  Fosbroke's  "  British  Monachism,"  pp.  374-5.  The  various  copies,  indeed,  seem  to 
differ  considerably,  but  to  be  all  derived  from  the  work  ascribed  to  Bishop  Poore.  All 
these  books  are  addressed  to  female  recluses,  which  is  a  confirmation  of  the  opinion 
which  we  have  before  expressed,  that  the  majority  of  the  recluses  were  women. 

J  Thus  the  player-queen  in  Hamlet,  iii.  2  : — 

"  Nor  earth  to  me  give  food,  nor  heaven  light ! 
Sport  and  repose  lock  from  me,  day,  and  night ! 
To  desperation  turn  my  trust  and  hope ! 
An  anchor's  cheer  in  prison  be  my  scope ! 
Each  opposite,  that  blanks  the  face  of  joy, 
Meet  what  I  would  have  well,  and  it  destroy,"  &c. 

122         The  Hermits  and  Recluses  of  the  Middle  Ages. 

recluse  into  frightful  and  inhuman  self-torture,  like  that  of  Thaysis,  in  the 
"  Golden  Legend  :"  "  She  went  to  the  place  whiche  th'  abbot  had  assygned 
to  her,  and  there  was  a  monasterye  of  vyrgyns ;  and  there  he  closed  her 
in  a  celle,  and  sealed  the  door  with  led.  And  the  celle  was  lytyll  and 
strayte,  and  but  one  lytell  wyndowe  open,  by  whyche  was  mynistred  to  her 
poor  lyvinge ;  for  the  abbot  commanded  that  they  shold  gyve  to  her  a 
lytell  brede  and  water."*  Thaysis  submitted  to  it  at  the  command  of 
Abbot  Pafnucius,  as  penance  for  a  sinful  life,  in  the  early  days  of  Egyptian 
austerity;  and  now  and  then  throughout  the  subsequent  ages  the  self- 
hatred  of  an  earnest,  impassioned  nature,  suddenly  roused  to  a  feeling  of 
exceeding  sinfulness ;  the  remorse  of  a  wild,  strong  spirit,  conscious  of  great 
crimes  ;  or  the  enthusiasm  of  a  weak  mind  and  morbid  conscience,  might 
urge  men  and  women  to  such  self-revenges,  to  such  penances,  as  these. 
Bishop  Poore  gives  us  episodically  a  pathetic  example,  which  our  readers 
will  thank  us  for  repeating  here.  "  Nothing  is  ever  so  hard  that  love  doth 
not  make  tender,  and  soft,  and  sweet.  Love  maketh  all  things  easy. 
What  do  men  and  women  endure  for  false  love,  and  would  endure  more  I 
And  what  is  more  to  be  wondered  at  is,  that  love  which  is  faithful  and 
true,  and  sweeter  than  any  other  love,  doth  not  overmaster  us  as  doth 
sinful  love !  Yet  I  know  a  man  who  weareth  at  the  same  time  both  a 
heavy  cuirass  f  and  haircloth,  bound  with  iron  round  the  middle  too,  and 
his  arms  with  broad  and  thick  bands,  so  that  to  bear  the  sweat  of  it  is 
severe  suffering.  He  fasteth,  he  watcheth,  he  laboureth,  and,  Christ 
knoweth,  he  complaineth,  and  saith  that  it  doth  not  oppress  him  ;  and 
often  asks  me  to  teach  him  something  wherewith  he  might  give  his  body 
pain.  God  knoweth  that  he,  the  most  sorrowful  of  men,  weepeth  to  me, 
and  saith  that  God  hath  quite  forgotten  him,  because  He  sendeth  him  no 
great  sickness  ;  whatever  is  bitter  seems  sweet  to  him  for  our  Lord's  sake. 
God  knoweth  love  doth  this,  because,  as  he  often  saith  to  me,  he  could 
never  love  God  the  less  for  any  evil  thing  that  He  might  do  to  him,  even 

*  A  cell  in  the  north-west  angle  of  Edington  Abbey  Church,  Wilts,  seems  to  be  of 
this  kind. 

t  The  wearing  a  cuirass,  or  hauberk  of  chain  mail,  next  the  skin  became  a  noted  form 
of  self-torture;  those  who  undertook  it  were  called  Loricati. 

Hie  Reclusorium.  123 

were  He  to  cast  him  into  hell  with  those  that  perish.  And  if  any  believe 
any  such  thing  of  him,  he  is  more  confounded  than  a  thief  taken  with  his 
theft.  I  know  also  a  woman  of  like  mind  that  suffereth  little  less.  And 
what  remaineth  but  to  thank  God  for  the  strength  that  He  giveth  them ; 
and  let  us  humbly  acknowledge  our  own  weakness,  and  love  their  merit, 
and  thus  it  becomes  our  own.  For  as  St.  Gregory  says,  love  is  of  so  great 
power  that  it  maketh  the  merit  of  others  our  own,  without  labour."  But 
though  powerful  motives  and  great  force  of  character  might  enable  an 
individual  here  and  there  to  persevere  with  such  austerities,  when  the 
severities  of  the  recluse  life  had  to  be  reduced  to  rule  and  system,  and 
when  a  succession  of  occupants  had  to  be  found  for  the  vacant  anchor- 
holds,  ordinary  human  nature  revolted  from  these  unnatural  austerities, 
and  the  common  sense  of  mankind  easily  granted  a  tacit  dispensation  from 
them ;  and  the  recluse  life  was  speedily  toned  down  in  practice  to  a  life 
which  a  religiously-minded  person,  especially  one  who  had  been  wounded 
and  worsted  in  the  battle  of  life,  might  gladly  embrace  and  easily  endure. 

Usually,  even  where  the  cell  consisted  of  a  single  room,  it  was  large 
enough  for  the  comfortable  abode  of  a  single  inmate,  and  it  was  not  desti- 
tute of  such  furnishing  as  comfort  required.  But  it  was  not  unusual  for  the 
cell  to  be  in  fact  a  house  of  several  apartments,  with  a  garden  attached  : 
and  it  would  seem  that  the  technical  "  cell "  within  which  the  recluse  was 
immured,  included  house  and  garden,  and  everything  within  the  boundary 
wall.*     It  is  true  that  many  of  the  recluses  lived  entirely,  and  perhaps  all 

tly,  upon  the  alms  of  pious  and  charitable  people.     An  alms-box  was 
lung  up  to  receive  contributions,  as  appears  from  "  Piers  Ploughman," — 
"  In  ancres  there  a  box  hangeth." 

And  in  the  extracts  hereafter  given  from  the  "Ancren  Riewle,"  we  shall 
find  several  allusions  to  the  giving  of  alms  to  recluses  as  a  usual  custom. 
But  it  was  the  bishop's  duty,  before  giving  license  for  the  building  of  a 
reclusorium,  to  satisfy  himself  that  there  would  be,  either  from  alms  or  from 
an  endowment,  a  sufficient  maintenance  for  the  recluse.     Practically,  they 

*  The  cell  of  a  Carthusian  monk,  as  we  have  stated,  consisted  of  a  little  house  of  three 
apartments  and  a  little  garden  r*ithin  an  inclosure  wall. 

124         The  Hermits  and  Recluses  of  the  Middle  Ages. 

do  not  seem  often  to  have  been  in  want ;  they  were  restricted  as  to  the 
times  when  they  might  eat  flesh-meat,  but  otherwise  their  abstemiousness 
depended  upon  their  own  religious  feeling  on  the  subject;  and  the  only 
check  upon  excess  was  in  their  own  moderation.  They  occupied  them- 
selves, besides  their  frequent  devotions,  in  reading,  writing,  illuminating, 
and  needlework;  and  though  the  recluses  attached  to  some  monasteries 
seem  to  have  been  under  an  obligation  of  silence,  yet  in  the  usual  case  the 
recluse  held  a  perpetual  levee  at  the  open  window,  and  gossiping  and  scandal 

Sir  Percival  at  the  Reclusorium. 

appear  to  have  been  among  her  besetting  sins.     It  will  be  our  business  to 
verify  and  further  to  illustrate  this  general  sketch  of  the  recluse  life. 

And,  first,  let  us  speak  more  in  detail  of  their  habitations.  The  reclu- 
sorium, or  anchorhold,  seems  sometimes  to  have  been,  like  the  hermitage, 
a  house  of  timber  or  stone,  or  a  grotto  in  a  solitary  place.  In  Sir  T. 
Mallory's  "  Prince  Arthur "  we  are  introduced  to  one  of  these,  which 
afforded  all  the  appliances  for  lodging  and  entertaining  even  male  guests. 
We  read  : — "  Sir  Percival  returned  again  unto  the  recluse,  where  he  deemed 
to  have  tidings  of  that  knight  which  Sir  Launcelot  followed.  And  so  he 
kneeled  at  her  window,  and  anon  the  recluse  opened  it,  and  asked  Sir 
Percival  what  he  would.     '  Madam,'  said  he,  '  I  am  a  knight  of  King 

The  Reclusorium.  125 

Arthur's  court,  and  my  name  is  Sir  Percival  de  Galis.'  So  when  the 
recluse  heard  his  name,  she  made  passing  great  joy  of  him,  for  greatly  she 
loved  him  before  all  other  knights  of  the  world  ;  and  so  of  right  she  ought 
to  do,  for  she  was  his  aunt.  And  then  she  commanded  that  the  gates 
should  be  opened  to  him,  and  then  Sir  Percival  had  all  the  cheer  that  she 
might  make  him,  and  all  that  was  in  her  power  was  at  his  commandment" 
But  it  does  not  seem  that  she  entertained  him  in  person ;  for  the  story 
continues  that  "  on  the  morrow  Sir  Percival  went  unto  the  recluse,"  i.e.,  to 
her  little  audience-window,  to  propound  his  question,  "  if  she  knew  that 
knight  with  the  white  shield."  Opposite  is  a  woodcut  of  a  picture  in  the 
MS.  "  History  of  Sir  Launcelot"  (Royal  14,  E.  III.  folio  101  v.),  entitled, 
■  Ensi  q  Percheva  retourna  a  la  rencluse  qui  estait  en  son  hermitage."  * 

In  the  case  of  these  large  remote  anchorholds,  the  recluse  must  have  had 
a  chaplain  to  come  and  say  mass  for  her  every  day  in  the  chapel  of  her 
hermitage.t  But  in  the  vast  majority  of  cases,  anchorholds  were  attached 
to  a  church  either  of  a  religious  house,  or  of  a  town,  or  of  a  village ;  and  in 
these  situations  they  appear  to  have  been  much  more  numerous  than  is 
at  all  suspected  by  those  who  have  not  inquired  into  this  little-known 
portion  of  our  mediaeval  antiquities.  Very  many  of  our  village  churches 
had  a  recluse  living  within  or  beside  them,  and  it  will,  perhaps,  especially 
surprise  the  majority  of  our  readers  to  learn  that  these  recluses  were  spe- 
cially numerous  in  the  mediaeval  towns.}  The  proofs  of  this  fact  are  abun- 
dant ;  here  are  some.  Henry,  Lord  Scrope,  of  Masham,  by  will,  dated 
23rd  June,  1 41 5,  bequeathed  to  every  anchoret  §  and  recluse  dwelling  in 
London  or  its  suburbs  6s.  8d. ;  also  to  every  anchoret  and  recluse  dwelling 
in  York  and  its  suburbs  6s.  8d.     From  other  sources  we  learn  more  about 

*  This  very  same  picture  is  given  also  in  another  MS.  of  about  the  same  date,  marked 
Add.  10,294,  at  f°uo  x4- 

f  As  was  probably  the  case  at  Warkworth,  the  hermit  living  in  the  hermitage,  while 
the  chantry  priest  lived  in  the  house  at  the  foot  of  the  bill, 
X    "  Eremites  that  inhabiten 
By  the  highways, 
And  in  boroughs  among  brewers." 

Piers  Ploughman's  Vision. 
\  Probably  "  anchoret "  means  male,  and  "  recluse  "  female  recluse. 

126         The  Hermits  and  Recluses  of  the  Middle  Ages. 

these  York  anchorets  and  recluses.  The  will  of  Adam  Wigan,  rector  of 
St.  Saviour,  York  (April  20,  1433,  a.d.)*,  leaves  3s.  $d.  to  Dan  John, 
who  dwelt  in  the  Chapel  of  St.  Martin,  within  the  parish  of  St.  Saviour. 
The  female  recluses  of  York  were  three  in  number  in  the  year  1433,  as  we 
learn  from  the  will  of  Margaret,  relict  of  Nicholas  Blackburne :  t  "  Lego 
tribus  reclusis  Ebor.,"  ijj-.  Where  their  cells  were  situated  we  learn 
from  the  will  of  Richard  Rupell  (a.d.  1435  t)>  wn0  bequeaths  to  the 
recluse  in  the  cemetery  of  the  Church  of  St.  Margaret,  York,  five  marks ; 
and  to  the  recluse  in  the  cemetery  of  St.  Helen,  in  Fishergate,  five  marks; 
and  to  the  recluse  in  the  cemetery  of  All  Saints,  in  North  Street,  York,  five 
marks.  They  are  also  all  three  mentioned  in  the  will  of  Adam  Wigan, 
who  leaves  to  the  anchorite  enclosed  in  Fishergate  2s. ;  to  her  enclosed 
near  the  church  of  St.  Margaret  2s. ;  to  her  enclosed  in  North  Street, 
near  the  Church  of  All  Saints,  2s.  The  will  of  Lady  Margaret  Stapelton, 
1465  a.d.,§  mentions  anchorites  in  Watergate  and  Fishergate,  in  the 
suburbs  of  York,  and  in  another  place  the  anchorite  of  the  nunnery  of 
St.  Clement,  York.  At  Lincoln,  also,  we  are  able  to  trace  a  similar  suc- 
cession of  anchoresses.  In  1383  a.d.,  William  de  Belay,  of  Lincoln,  left  to 
an  anchoress  named  Isabella,  who  dwelt  in  the  Church  of  the  Holy  Trinity, 
in  Wigford,  within  the  city  of  Lincoln,  13s.  4*/.  In  1391,  John  de  Sutton 
left  her  20s. ;  in  1374,  John  de  Ramsay  left  her  i2d.  Besides  these  she 
had  numerous  other  legacies  from  citizens.  In  1453,  an  anchoress  named 
Matilda  supplied  the  place  of  Isabella,  who  we  may  suppose  had  long 
since  gone  to  her  reward.  In  that  year  John  Tilney — one  of  the  Tilneys 
of  Boston — left  "  Domine  Matilde  incluse  infra  ecclesiam  sanctae  Trinitatis 
ad  gressus  in  civitate  Lincoln,  v)s.  viij<£"  In  1502,  Master  John  Watson, 
a  chaplain  in  Master  Robert  Flemyng's  chantry,  left  xi)d.  to  the  "  ankers  " 
at  the  Greese  foot.  This  Church  of  the  Holy  Trinity  "ad  gressus" 
seems  to  have  been  for  a  long  period  the  abode  of  a  female  recluse.|| 
The  will  of  Roger  Eston,  rector  of  Richmond,  Yorkshire,  a.d.  1446, 
also  mentions  the  recluses  in  the  city  of  York  and    its  suburbs.     The 

•  Test.  Vetust.,  ii.  25.  t  Ibid.  ii.  47.  %  Ibid.  ii.  56.  §  Ibid.  ii.  271. 

jj  Note  p.  87  to  "  Instructions  for  Parish  Priests,"  Early  English  Text  Society. 

Female  Recluses.  127 

will  of  Adam  Wilson  also  mentions  Lady  Agnes,  enclosed  at  (apud) 
the  parish  church  of  Thorganby,  and  anchorites  (female)  at  Beston  and 
Pontefract.  Sir  Hugh  Willoughby,  of  Wollaton,  in  1463  bequeathed 
6s.  $d.  to  the  anchoress  of  Nottingham.*  The  will  of  Lady  Joan 
Wombewell,  a.d.  i454,t  also  mentions  the  anchoress  of  Beyston. 
The  will  of  John  Brompton,  of  Beverley,  a.d.  1444,^  bequeaths  3s.  4*/. 
to  the  recluse  by  the  Church  of  St  Giles,  and  is.  6d.  to  anchorite  at 
the  friary  of  St.  Nicholas  of  Beverley.  Roger  Eston  also  leaves  a 
bequest  to  the  anchorite  of  his  parish  of  Richmond,  respecting  whom 
the  editor  gives  a  note  whose  substance  is  given  elsewhere.  In  a  will 
of  the  fifteenth  century  §  we  have  a  bequest  "  to  the  ancher  in  the  wall 
beside  Bishopsgate,  London."  ||  In  the  will  of  St.  Richard,  Bishop  of 
Chichester, «j  we  have  bequests  to  Friar  Humphrey,  the  recluse  of  Pageham, 
to  the  recluse  of  Hogton,  to  the  recluse  of  Stopeham,  to  the  recluse  of 
Herringham;  and  in  the  will  of  Walter  de  Suffield,  Bishop  of  Norwich, 
bequests  to  "  anchers  "  and  recluses  in  his  diocese,  and  especially  to  his 
niece  Ela,  in  reclusorio  at  Massingham.** 

Among  the  other  notices  which  we  have  of  solitaries  living  in  towns, 
Lydgate  mentions  one  in  the  town  of  Wakefield.  Morant  says  there  was 
one  in  Holy  Trinity  churchyard,  Colchester.  The  episcopal  registers  of 
Lichfield  show  that  there  was  an  anchorage  for  several  female  recluses  in 
the  churchyard  of  St.  George's  Chapel,  Shrewsbury.  The  will  of  Henry, 
Lord  Scrope,  already  quoted,  leaves  iooj.  and  the  pair  of  beads  which  the 
testator  was  accustomed  to  use  to  the  anchorite  of  Westminster :  it  was  his 
predecessor,  doubtless,  who  is  mentioned  in  the  time  of  Richard  II. : 
when  the  young  king  was  going  to  meet  Wat  Tyler  in  Smithfield,  he  went 
to  Westminster  Abbey,  "  then  to  the  church,  and  so  to  the  high  altar, 
where  he  devoutedly  prayed  and  offered ;  after  which  he  spake  with  the 

*  Test.  Vetust.,  ii.  131.  f  Ibid.  178.  %  !bid.  "•  98-  §  Ibid.  356. 

I  Other  bequests  to  recluses  occur  in  the  will  of  Henry  U.,  to  the  recluses  {incluses) 
of  Jerusalem,  England,  and  Normandy. 

%  Sussex  Archaeol.  Coll.,  i.  p.  174. 

**  Blomfield's  "  Norfolk,"  ii.  pp.  347-8.  See  also  the  bequests  to  the  Norwich 
recluses,  infra. 

128         The  Hermits  and  Recluses  of  the  Middle  Ages. 

anchore,  to  whom  he  confessed  himself."*  Lord  Scrope's  will  goes  on  to 
bequeath  405-.  to  Robert,  the  recluse  of  Beverley ;  13^.  ^d.  each  to  the 
anchorets  of  Stafford,  of  Kurkebeck,  of  Wath,  of  Peasholme,  near  York,  of 
Kirby,  Thorganby,  near  Colingworth,  of  Leek,  near  Upsale,  of  Gainsburgh, 
of  Kneesall,  near  South  Well,  of  Dartford,  of  Stamford,  living  in  the  parish 
church  there  ;  to  Thomas,  the  chaplain  dwelling  continually  in  the  church 
of  St.  Nicholas,  Gloucester ;  to  Elizabeth,  late  servant  to  the  anchoret  of 
Hamphole ;  and  to  the  recluse  in  the  house  of  the  Dominicans  at  New- 
castle j  and  also  6s.  8d.  to  every  other  anchorite  and  anchoritess  that  could 
be  easily  found  within  three  months  of  his  decease. 

We  have  already  had  occasion  to  mention  that  there  were  several  female 
recluses,  in  addition  to  the  male  solitaries,  in  the  churchyards  of  the  then 
great  city  of  Norwich.  The  particulars  which  that  laborious  antiquary, 
Blomfield,  has  collected  together  respecting  several  of  them  will  throw  a 
little  additional  light  upon  our  subject,  and  fill  up  still  further  the  out- 
lines of  the  picture  which  we  are  engaged  in  painting. 

There  was  a  hermitage  in  the  churchyard  of  St.  Julian,  Norwich,  which 
was  inhabited  by  a  succession  of  anchoresses,  some  of  whose  names  Blom- 
field records: — Dame  Agnes,  in  1472;  Dame  Elizabeth  Scot,  in  1481; 
Lady  Elizabeth,  in  1510;  Dame  Agnes  Edrigge,  in  1524.  The  Lady 
Julian,  who  was  the  anchoress  in  1393,  is  said  to  have  had  two  servants  to 
attend  her  in  her  old  age.  "  She  was  esteemed  of  great  holiness.  Mr. 
Francis  Peck  had  a  vellum  MS.  containing  an  account  of  her  visions." 
Blomfield  says  that  the  foundations  of  the  anchorage  might  still  be  seen  in 
his  time,  on  the  east  side  of  St.  Julian's  churchyard.  There  was  also  an 
anchorage  in  St.  Ethelred's  churchyard,  which  was  rebuilt  in  1305,  and  an 
anchor  continually  dwelt  there  till  the  Reformation,  when  it  was  pulled 
down,  and  the  grange,  or  tithe-barn,  at  Brakendale  was  built  with  its 
timber;  so  that  it  must  have  been  a  timber  house  of  some  magnitude. 
Also  in  St.  Edward's  churchyard,  joining  to  the  church  on  the  north  side, 
was  a  cell,  whose  ruins  were  still  visible  in  Blomfield's  time,  and  most  per- 
sons who  died  in  Norwich  left  small  sums  towards  its  maintenance.     In 

*  Stow's  Chronicle,  p.  559. 

Female  Recluses.  129 

1428  Lady  Joan  was  anchoress  here,  to  whom  Walter  Ledman  left  20J., 
and  AfOd.  to  each  of  her  servants.  In  1458,  Dame  Anneys  Kite  was  the 
recluse  here;  in  1516,  Margaret  Norman,  widow,  was  buried  here,  and 
gave  a  legacy  to  the  lady  anchoress  by  the  church.  St.  John  the  Evan- 
gelist's Church,  in  Southgate,  was,  about  a.d.  1300,  annexed  to  the  parish 
of  St.  Peter  per  Montergate,  and  the  Grey  Friars  bought  the  site ;  they 
pulled  down  the  whole  building,  except  a  small  part  left  for  an  anchorage, 
in  which  they  placed  an  anchor,  to  whom  they  assigned  part  of  the  church- 
yard for  his  garden.  Also  there  used  ancientry  to  be  a  recluse  dwelling  in 
a  little  cell  joining  to  the  north  side  of  the  tower  of  St.  John  the  Baptist's 
Church,  Timber  Hill,  but  it  was  down  before  the  Dissolution.  Also  there 
was  an  anchor,  or  hermit,  who  had  an  anchorage  in  or  adjoining  to  All 
Saints'  Church.  Also  in  Henry  III.'s  time  a  recluse  dwelt  in  the  church- 
yard of  St.  John  the  Baptist,  and  the  Holy  Sepulchre,  in  Ber  Street.  In 
the  monastery  of  the  Carmelites,  or  White  Friars,  at  Norwich,  there  were 
two  anchorages — one  for  a  man,  who  was  admitted  brother  of  the  house, 
and  another  for  a  woman,  who  was  admitted  sister  thereof.  The  latter 
was  under  the  chapel  of  the  Holy  Cross,  which  was  still  standing  in  Blom- 
field's  time,  though  converted  into  dwelling-houses.  The  former  stood  by 
St.  Martin's  Bridge,  on  the  east  side  of  the  street,  and  had  a  small  garden 
to  it,  which  ran  down  to  the  river.  In  1442,  December  2nd,  the  Lady 
Emma,  recluse,  or  anchoress,  and  religious  sister  of  the  Carmelite  order, 
was  buried  in  their  church.  In  1443,  Thomas  Scroope  was  anchorite  in 
this  house.  In  1465,  Brother  John  Castleacre,  a  priest,  was  anchorite. 
In  1494  there  were  legacies  given  to  the  anchor  of  the  White  Friars.  This 
Thomas  Scroope  was  originally  a  Benedictine  monk;  in  1430  he  became 
anchorite  here  (being  received  a  brother  of  the  Carmelite  order),  and  led 
an  anchorite's  life  for  many  years,  seldom  going  out  of  his  cell  but  when  he 
preached;  about  1446  Pope  Eugenius  made  him  Bishop  of  Down,  which 
see  he  afterwards  resigned,  and  came  again  to  his  convent,  and  became 
suffragan  to  the  Bishop  of  Norwich.  He  died,  and  was  buried  at  Lowes- 
toft, being  near  a  hundred  years  old. 

The  document  which  we  are  about  to  quote  from  Whittaker's  "  History 
of  Whalley"  (pp.  72  and  77),  illustrates  many  points  in  the  history  of  the-* 


130         The  Hermits  and  Recluses  of  the  Middle  Ages. 

anchorholds.  The  anchorage  therein  mentioned  was  built  in  a  parish 
churchyard,  it  depended  upon  a  monastery,  and  was  endowed  with  an 
allowance  in  money  and  kind  from  the  monastery ;  it  was  founded  for  two 
recluses ;  they  had  a  chaplain  and  servants ;  and  the  patronage  was  retained 
by  the  founder.  The  document  will  also  give  us  some  very  curious  and 
minute  details  of  the  domestic  economy  of  the  recluse  life ;  and,  lastly,  it 
will  give  us  an  historical  proof  that  the  assertions  of  the  contemporary 
satirists,  of  the  laxity*  with  which  the  vows  were  sometimes  kept,  were  not 
without  foundation. 

"  In  1349,  Henry,  Duke  of  Lancaster,  granted  in  trust  to  the  abbot  and 
convent  of  Whalley  rather  large  endowments  to  support  two  recluses 
(women)  in  a  certain  place  within  the  churchyard  of  the  parish  church  of 
Whalley,  and  two  women  servants  to  attend  them,  there  to  pray  for  the 
soul  of  the  duke,  &c;  to  find  them  seventeen  ordinary  loaves,  and  seven 
inferior  loaves,  eight  gallons  of  better  beer,  and  3d.  per  week ;  and  yearly 
ten  large  stock-fish,  one  bushel  of  oatmeal,  one  of  rye,  two  gallons  of  oil 
for  lamps,  one  pound  of  tallow  for  candles,  six  loads  of  turf,  and  one  load  of 
faggots  ;  also  to  repair  their  habitations ;  and  to  find  a  chaplain  to  say  mass 
in  the  chapel  of  these  recluses  daily ;  their  successors  to  be  nominated 
by  the  duke  and  his  heirs.  On  July  6, 15th  Henry  VI.,  the  king  nominated 
Isole  de  Heton,  widow,  to  be  an  anachorita  for  life,  in  loco  ad  hoc  ordinate 
juxta  ecclesiam  parochialem  de  Whalley.  Isole,  however,  grew  tired  of  the 
solitary  life,  and  quitted  it ;  for  afterwards  a  representation  was  made  to 
the  king  that  '  divers  that  had  been  anchores  and  recluses  in  the  seyd  place 
aforetyme,  have  broken  oute  of  the  seyd  place  wherein  they  were  reclusyd, 
and  departyd  therefrom  wythout  any  reconsilyation ;'  and  that  Isole  tie 
Heton  had  broken  out  two  years  before,  and  was  not  willing  to  return  ; 
and  that  divers  of  the  women  that  had  been  servants  there  had  been  with 
child.  So  Henry  VI.  dissolved  the  hermitage,  and  appointed  instead  two 
chaplains  to  say  mass  daily,  &c."  Whittaker  thinks  that  the  hermitage 
occupied  the    site  of  some  cottages  on  the  west  side   of  the    church- 

*  In  the  "  Ancren  Richie,"  p.  129,  we  read,  "Who  can  with  more  facility  commit 
sin  than  the  false  recluse  ?  " 

Female  Recluses,  13 1 

yard,  which  opened  into  the  churchyard  until  he  had   the  doors  walled 

There  was  a  similar  hermitage  for  several  female  recluses  in  the  church- 
yard of  St.  Romauld,  Shrewsbury,  as  we  learn  from  a  document  among  the 
Bishop  of  Lichfield's  registers,*  in  which  he  directs  the  Dean  of  St  Chadd, 
or  his  procurator,  to  enclose  Isolda  de  Hungerford  an  anchorite  in  the 
houses  of  the  churchyard  of  St.  Romauld,  where  the  other  anchorites 
dwell.  Also  in  the  same  registry  there  is  a  precept,  dated  Feb.  1,  13 10, 
from  Walter  de  Langton,  Bishop,  to  Emma  Sprenghose,  admitting  her  an 
anchorite  in  the  houses  of  the  churchyard  of  St.  George's  Chapel,  Salop, 
and  he  appoints  the  archdeacon  to  enclose  her.  Another  license  from 
Roger,  Bishop  of  Lichfield,  dated  1362,  to  Robert  de  Worthin,  permitting 
him,  on  the  nomination  of  Queen  Isabella,  to  serve  God  in  the  reclusorium 
built  adjoining  (juxta)  the  chapel  of  St  John  Baptist  in  the  city  of 
Coventry,  has  been  published  in  extenso  by  Dugdale,  and  we  transcribe  it 
for  the  benefit  of  the  curious. f  Thomas  Hearne  has  printed  an  Episcopal 
Commission,  dated  1402,  for  enclosing  John  Cherde,  a  monk  of  Ford 
Abbey.  Burnett's  "  History  of  Bristol  "  mentions  a  commission  opened 
by  Bishop  William  of  Wykham,  in  August,  1403,  for  enclosing  Lucy  de 
Newchurch,  an  anchoritess  in  the  hermitage  of  St.  Brendon  in  Bristol. 
Richard  Francis,  an  ankret,  is  spoken  of  as  inter  quatuor  parietes  pro  christi 
inciusus  in  Langtoft's  "  Chronicle,"  ij.  625. 

*  Owen  and  Blakeway's  "  History  of  Shrewsbury." 

t  "  Rogerus,  &c,  dclecto  in  Christo  filio  Roberto  de  Worthin,  cap.  salutem,  &c. 
Precipue  devotionis  affectum,  quern  ad  serviendum  Deo  in  reclusorio  juxta  capellam  Sancti 
Joh.  Babtiste  in  civitate  Coventriensi  constructo,  et  spretis  mundi  deliciis  et  ipsius  vagis 
discurribus  contemptis,  habere  te  asseres,  propensius  intuentes,  ac  volentes  te,  considera- 
tione  nobilis  domine,  domine  Isabelle  Regine  Anglie  nobis  pro  te  supplicante  in  hujus 
laudabili  proposito  confovere,  ut  in  prefato  reclusorio  morari  possis,  et  recludi  et  vitam 
tuam  in  eodam  ducere  in  tui  laudibus  Redemptoris,  licentiam  tibi  quantum  in  nobis  est 
concedi  per  presentes,  quibus  sigillum  nostrum  duximus  apponendum.  Dat  apud  Hey. 
wood,  5  Kal.  Dec.  m.d.  a.d.  mccclxii,  et  consecrationis  nostra  tricessimo  sexto."— 
Dugdale's  Warwickshire,  2nd  Edit.,  p.  193. 



UST  as  in  a  monastery,  though  it  might  be  large  or  small  in 
magnitude,  simple  or  gorgeous  in  style,  with  more  or  fewer 
offices  and  appendages,  according  to  the  number  and  wealth 
of  the  establishment,  yet  there  was  always  a  certain  suite  of  conventual 
buildings,  church,  chapter  refectory,  dormitory,  &c,  arranged  in  a  certain 
order,  which  formed  the  cloister;  and  this  cloister  was  the  nucleus  of 
all  the  rest  of  the  buildings  of  the  establishment ;  so,  in  a  reclusorium, 
or  anchorhold,  there  was  always  a  "  cell "  of  a  certain  construction, 
to  which  all  things  else,  parlours  or  chapels,  apartments  for  servants 
and  guests,  yards  and  gardens,  were  accidental  appendages.  Bader's 
rule  for  recluses  in  Bavaria*  describes  the  dimensions  and  plan  of  the 
cell  minutely ;  the  domus  indusi  was  to  be  12  feet  long  by  as  many 
broad,  and  was  to  have  three  windows — one  towards  the  choir  (of  the 
church  to  which  it  was  attached),  through  which  he  might  receive  the 
Holy  Sacrament ;  another  on  the  opposite  side,  through  which  he  might 
receive  his  victuals ;  and  a  third  to  give  light,  which  last  ought  always 
to  be  closed  with  glass  or  horn. 

The  reader  will  have  already  gathered  from  the  preceding  extracts  that 
the  reclusorium  was  sometimes  a  house  of  timber  or  stone  within  the 
churchyard,  and  most  usually  adjoining  the  church  itself.  At  the  west  end 
of  Laindon  Church,  Essex,  there  is  a  unique  erection  of  timber,  of  which 
we  here  give  a  representation.     It  has  been  modernised  in  appearance  by 

*  Fosbroke's  "  British  Monachism,"  p.  372. 

The  Reclusorium.  133 

the  insertion  of  windows  and  doors ;  and  there  are  no  architectural  details 
of  a  character  to  reveal  with  certainty  its  date,  but  in  its  mode  of  construc- 
tion— the  massive  timbers  being  placed  close  together — and  in  its  general 
appearance,  there  is  an  air  of  considerable  antiquity.  It  is  improbable 
that  a  house  would  be  erected  in  such  a  situation  after  the  Reforma- 
tion, and  it  accords  generally  with  the  descriptions  of  a  recluse  house. 
Probably,  however,  many  of  the  anchorholds  attached  to  churches  were 
of  smaller  dimensions;   sometimes,  perhaps,  only  a  single   little  timber 

Laindon  Church,  Essex. 

apartment  on  the  ground  floor,  or  sometimes  probably  raised  upon  an 
under  croft,  according  to  a  common  custom  in  mediaeval  domestic  buildings. 
Very  probably  some  of  those  little  windows  which  occur  in  many  of  our 
churches,  in  various  situations,  at  various  heights,  and  which,  under  the 
name  of  "  low  side  windows,"  have  formed  the  subject  of  so  much  discus- 
sion among  ecclesiologists,  may  have  been  the  windows  of  such  anchor- 
holds.  The  peculiarity  of  these  windows  is  that  they  are  sometimes  merely 
a  square  opening,  which   originally  was   not  glazed,  but   closed  with  a 

134         The  Hermits  and  Recluses  of  the  Middle  Ages. 

shutter;  sometimes  a  small  glazed  window,  in  a  position  where  it  was 
clearly  not  intended  to  light  the  church  generally ;  sometimes  a  window 
has  a  stone  transom  across,  and  the  upper  part  is  glazed,  while  the  lower 
part  is  closed  only  by  a  shutter.  It  is  clear  that  some  of  these  may  have 
served  to  enable  the  anchorite,  living  in  a  cell  outside  the  church,  to  see 
the  altar.  It  seems  to  have  been  such  a  window  which  is  alluded  to 
in  the  following  incident  from  Mallory's  "  Prince  Arthur  : " — "  Then  Sir 
Launcelot  armed  him  and  took  his  horse,  and  as  he  rode  that  way  he 
saw  a  chapel  where  was  a  recluse,  which  had  a  window  that  she  might  see 

Reclusorvum,  or  Anchorhold,  at  Rettenden,  £ssex. 

up  to  the  altar  ;  and  all  aloud  she  called  Sir  Launcelot,  because  he  seemed 

a  knight  arrant And  (after  a  long  conversation)  she  commanded 

Launcelot  to  dinner."  In  the  late  thirteenth-century  MS.,  Royal  10  E. 
IV.  at  f.  181,  is  a  representation  of  a  recluse-house,  in  which,  besides  two 
two-light  arched  windows  high  up  in  the  wall,  there  is  a  smaller  square 
"  low  side  window "  very  distinctly  shown.  Others  of  these  low  side 
windows  may  have  been  for  the  use  of  wooden  anchorholds  built 
within  the  church,  combining  two  of  the  usual  three  windows  of  the 
ceil,  viz.,  the  one  to  give  light,  and  the  one  through  which  to  receive 

T/ie  Reclusorium.  135 

food  and  communicate  with  the  outer  world.  There  is  an  txichorhold 
still  remaining  in  a  tolerably  unmutilated  state  at  Rettenden,  Essex. 
It  is  a  stone  building  of  fifteenth-century  date,  of  two  stories,  adjoining 
the  north  side  of  the  chancel.  It  is  entered  by  a  rather  elaborately 
moulded  doorway  from  the  chanceL  The  lower  story  is  now  used 
as  a  vestry,  and  is  lighted  by  a  modern  window  broken  through  its 
east  wall ;  but  it  is  described  as  having  been  a  dark  room,  and  there  is 
no  trace  of  any  original  window.  In  the  north  wall,  and  towards  the 
east,  is  a  bracket,  such  as  would  hold  a  small  statue  or  a  lamp.  In  the 
west  side  of  this  room,  on  the  left  immediately  on  entering  it  from  the 
chancel,  is  the  door  of  a  stone  winding  stair  (built  up  in  the  nave  aisle, 
but  now  screened  towards  the  aisle  by  a  very  large  monument),  which 
gives  access  to  the  upper  story.  This  story  consists  of  a  room  which  very 
exactly  agrees  with  the  description  of  a  recluse's  cell  (see  opposite  wood- 
cut). On  the  south  side  are  two  arched  niches,  in  which  are  stone 
benches,  and  the  back  of  the  easternmost  of  these  niches  is  pierced  by  a 
small  arched  window,  now  blocked  up,  which  looked  down  upon  the  altar. 
On  the  north  side  is  a  chimney,  now  filled  with  a  modern  fireplace,  but 
the  chimney  is  a  part  of  the  original  building;  and  westward  of  the 
chimney  is  a  small  square  opening,  now  filled  with  modern  glazing,  but  the 
hook  upon  which  the  original  shutter  hung  still  remains.  This  window  is 
not  splayed  in  the  usual  mediaeval  manner,  but  is  recessed  in  such  a  way 
as  to  allow  the  head  of  a  person  to  look  out,  and  especially  down,  with 
facility.  On  the  exterior  this  window  is  about  10  feet  from  the  ground. 
In  this  respect  it  resembles  the  situation  of  a  low  side  window  in  Prior 
Crawden's  Chapel,  Ely  Cathedral,*  which  is  on  the  first  floor,  having  a 
room,  lighted  only  by  narrow  slits,  beneath  it ;  and  at  the  Sainte  Chapelle, 
in  Paris,  which  also  has  an  undercroft,  there  is  a  similar  example  of  a  side 
window,  at  a  still  greater  height  from  the  ground.  The  east  side  of  the 
Rettenden  reclusorium  has  now  a  modern  window,  probably  occupying  the 
place  of  the  original  window  which  gave  light  to  the  cell.  The  stair-turret 
at  the  top  of  the  winding  staircase,  seems  to  have  been  intended  to  serve 

*  Engraved  in  the  Archaeological  Journal,  iv.  p.  320. 

136         The  Hermits  and  Recluses  of  the  Middle  Ages. 

for  a  little  closet :  it  obtained  some  light  through  a  small  loop  which  looked 
out  into  the  north  aisle  of  the  church ;  the  wall  on  the  north  side  of  it  is 
recessed  so  as  to  form  a  shelf,  and  a  square  slab  of  stone,  which  looks  like 
a  portion  of  a  thirteenth-century  coffin-stone,  is  laid  upon  the  top  of  the 
newel,  and  fitted  into  the  wall,  so  as  to  form  another  shelf  or  little  table. 

At  East  Horndon  Church,  Essex,  there  are  two  transept-like  projections 
from  the  nave.  In  the  one  on  the  south  there  is  a  monumental  niche  in 
the  south  wall,  upon  the  back  of  which  are  the  indents  of  the  brasses  of  a 
man  and  wife  and  several  children ;  and  there  is  a  tradition,  with  which 
these  indents  are  altogether  inconsistent,  that  the  heart  of  the  unfortunate 
Queen  Anne  Bullen  is  interred  therein.  Over  this  is  a  chamber,  open  to 
the  nave,  and  now  used  as  a  gallery,  approached  by  a  modern  wooden 
stair;  and  there  is  a  projection  outside  which  looks  like  a  chimney, 
carried  out  from  this  floor  upwards.  The  transeptal  projection  on  the 
north  side  is  very  similar  in  plan.  On  the  ground  floor  there  is  a  wide, 
shallow,  cinque-foil  headed  niche  (partly  blocked)  in  the  east  wall ;  and 
there  is  a  wainscot  ceiling,  very  neatly  divided  into  rectangular  panels  by 
moulded  ribs  of  the  date  of  about  Henry  VIII.  The  existence  of  the 
chamber  above  was  unknown  until  the  present  rector  discovered  a  door- 
way in  the  east  wall  of  the  ground  floor,  which,  on  being  opened,  gave 
access  to  a  stone  staircase  behind  the  east  wall,  which  led  up  into  a  first- 
floor  chamber,  about  12  feet  from  east  to  west,  and  8  feet  from  north 
to  south  :  the  birds  had  had  access  to  it  through  an  unglazed  window  in 
the  north  wall  for  an  unknown  period,  and  it  was  half  filled  with  their 
nests;  the  floor  planks  were  quite  decayed.  There  is  no  trace  of  a 
chimney  here.  It  is  now  opened  out  to  the  nave  to  form  a  gallery. 
Though  we  do  not  find  in  these  two  first-floor  chambers  the  arrangements 
which  could  satisfy  us  that  they  were  recluse  cells,  yet  it  is  very  probable 
that  they  were  habitable  chambers,  inhabited,  if  not  by  recluses,  perhaps 
by  chantry  priests,  serving  chantry  chapels  of  the  Tyrrells. 

Mr.  M.  H.  Bloxam,  in  an  interesting  paper  in  the  Transactions  of  the 
Lincoln  Diocesan  Architectural  Society,  mentions  several  other  anchor- 
holds  : — "  Adjoining  the  little  mountain  church  of  S.  Patricio,  about  five 
miles  from   Crickhowel,  South  Wales,  is  an  attached  building  or  cell.     It 

The  Reclusorium.  137 

contains  on  the  east  side  a  stone  altar,  above  which  is  a  small  window,  now 
blocked  up,  which  looked  towards  the  altar  of  the  church ;  but  there  was  no 
other  internal  communication  between  this  cell  and  the  church,  to  the  west 
end  of  which  it  is  annexed  ;  it  appears  as  if  destined  for  a  recluse  who  was 
also  a  priest"  Mr.  Bloxam  mentions  some  other  examples,  very  much 
resembling  the  one  described  at  Rettenden.  The  north  transept  of 
Clifton  Campville  Church,  Staffordshire,  a  structure  of  the  fourteenth 
century,  is  vaulted  and  groined  with  stone ;  it  measures  17  feet  from  north 
to  south,  and  1 2  feet  from  east  to  west.  Over  this  is  a  loft  or  chamber, 
apparently  an  anchorhold  or  domus  inclusi,  access  to  which  is  obtained  by 
means  of  a  newell  staircase  in  the  south-east  angle,  from  a  doorway  at  the 
north-east  angle  of  the  chancel.  A  small  window  on  the  south  side  of 
this  chamber,  now  blocked  up,  afforded  a  view  into  the  interior  of  the 
church.  The  roof  of  this  chamber  has  been  lowered,  and  all  the  windows 
blocked  up. 

"  On  the  north  side  of  the  chancel  of  Chipping  Norton  Church,  Oxford- 
shire, is  a  revestry  which  still  contains  an  ancient  stone  altar,  with  its 
appurtenances,  viz.,  a  piscina  in  the  wall  on  the  north  side,  and  a  bracket 
for  an  image  projecting  from  the  east  wall,  north  of  the  altar.  Over  this 
revestry  is  a  loft  or  chamber,  to  which  access  is  obtained  by  means  of  a 
staircase  in  the  north-west  angle.  Apertures  in  the  wall  enabled  the 
recluse,  probably  a  priest,  here  dwelling,  to  overlook  the  chancel  and  north 
aisle  of  the  church. 

"  Adjoining  the  north  side  of  the  chancel  of  Warmington  Church,  War- 
wickshire, is  a  revestry,  entered  through  an  ogee-headed  doorway  in  the 
north  wall  of  the  chancel,  down  a  descent  of  three  steps.  This  revestry 
contains  an  ancient  stone  altar,  projecting  from  a  square-headed  window 
in  the  east  wall,  and  near  the  altar,  in  the  same  wall,  is  a  piscina.  In  the 
south-west  angle  of  this  revestry  is  a  flight  of  stone  steps,  leading  up  to  a 
chamber  or  loft.  This  chamber  contains,  in  the  west  wall,  a  fire-place,  in 
the  north-west  angle  a  retiring-closet,  or  jakes,  and  in  the  south  wall  a 
small  pointed  window,  of  decorated  character,  through  which  the  high-altar 
in  the  chancel  might  be  viewed.  In  the  north  wall  there  appears  to  have 
been  a  pointed  window,  filled  with  decorated  tracery,  and  in  the  east  wall 

138         The  Hermits  and  Recluses  of  the  Middle  Ages. 

is  another  decorated  window.  This  is  one  of  the  most  interesting  and 
complete  specimens  of  the  domus  indusi  I  have  met  with."* 

The  chamber  which  is  so  frequently  found  over  the  porch  of  our 
churches,  often  with  a  fireplace,  and  sometimes  with  a  closet  within  it, 
may  probably  have  sometimes  been  inhabited  by  a  recluse.  Chambers  are 
also  sometimes  found  in  the  towers  of  churches.f  Mr.  Bloxam  mentions 
a  room,  with  a  fire-place,  in  the  tower  of  Upton  Church,  Nottinghamshire. 
Again,  at  Boyton  Church,  Wiltshire,  the  tower  is  on  the  north  side  of  the 
church,  "  and  adjoining  the  tower  on  the  west  side,  and  communicating 
with  it,  is  a  room  which  appears  to  have  been  once  permanently  inhabited, 
and  in  the  north-east  angle  of  this  room  is  a  fire-place."  At  Newport,  Salop, 
the  first  floor  of  the  tower  seems  to  have  been  a  habitable  chamber,  and 
has  a  little  inner  chamber  corbelled  out  at  the  north-west  angle  of  the 

We  have  already  hinted  that  it  is  not  improbable  that  timber  anchor- 
holds  were  sometimes  erected  inside  our  churches.  Or  perhaps  the  recluse 
lived  in  the  church  itself,  or,  more  definitely,  in  a  par-closed  chantry  chapel, 
without  any  chamber  being  purposely  built  for  him.  The  indications  which 
lead  us  to  this  supposition  are  these  :  there  is  sometimes  an  ordinary 
domestic  fire-place  to  be  found  inside  the  church.  For  instance,  in  the 
north  aisle  of  Layer  Marney  Church,  Essex,  the  western  part  of  the  aisle 
is  screened  off  for  the  chantry  of  Lord  Marney,  whose  tomb  has  the 
chantry  altar  still  remaining,  set  crosswise  at  the  west  end  of  the  tomb  \ 
in  the  eastern  division  of  the  aisle  there  is  an  ordinary  domestic  fire-place 
in  the  north  wall.  There  is  a  similar  fire-place,  of  about  the  same  date,  in 
Sir  Thomas  Bullen's  church  of  Hever,  in  Kent. 

Again,  we  sometimes  find  beside  the  low  side-windows  already  spoken 
of,   an   arrangement  which   shows   that  it   was   intended  for  some  one 

*  Reports  of  the  Lincoln  Diocesan  Archaeological  Society  for  1853,  pp.  359-60. 

t  Peter,  Abbot  of  Clugny,  tells  us  of  a  monk  and  priest  of  that  abbey  who  had  for 
a  cell  an  oratory  in  a  very  high  and  remote  steeple-tower,  consecrated  to  the  honour  of 
St.  Michael  the  archangel.  "  Here,  devoting  himself  to  divine  meditation  night  and  day, 
he  mouri'ed  high  above  mortal  things,  and  seemed  with  the  angels  to  be  present  at  the 
nearer  vision  of  his  Maker." 

The  Reclmorium. 


habitually  to  sit  there.  Thus,  at  Somerton,  Oxfordshire,  on  the  north  side 
of  the  chancel,  is  a  long  and  narrow  window,  with  decorated  tracery  in  the 
head ;  the  lower  part  is  divided  by  a  thick  transom,  and  does  not  appear 
to  have  been  glazed.  In  the  interior  the  wall  is  recessed  beside  the 
window,  with  a  sort  of  shoulder,  exactly  adapted  to  give  room  for  a  seat, 
in  such  a  position  that  its  occupant  would  get  the  full  benefit  of  the  light 
through  the  glazed  upper  part  of  the  little  window,  and  would  be  in  a 
convenient  position  for  conversing  through  the  unglazed  lower  portion 
of  it. 

At  Elsfield  Church,  Oxfordshire,  there 
is  an  early  English  lancet  window,  similarly 
divided  by  a  transom,  the  lower  part,  now 
blocked  up,  having  been  originally  un- 
glazed, and  the  sill  of  the  window  in  the 
interior  has  been  formed  into  a  stone  seat 
and  desk.  We  reproduce  here  a  view  of 
the  latter  from  the  "  Oxford  Architectural 
Society's  Guide  to  the  Neighbourhood  of 
Oxford."  Perhaps  in  such  instances  as 
these,  the  recluse  may  have  been  a  priest 
serving  a  chantry  altar,  and  licensed, 
perhaps,  to  hear  confessions,*  for  which 
the  seat  beside  the  little  open  window 
would    be     a    convenient     arrangement  Wind™,  XlsjUtf  Church. 

Lord  Scrope's  will  has  already  told  us  of  a  chaplain  dwelling  continu- 
ally {commoranH  continuo)  in  the  Church  of  St  Nicholas,  Gloucester,  and 
of  an  anchorite  living  in  the  parish  church  of  Stamford.  There  is  a  low 
side-window  at  Mawgan  Church,  Cornwall.  In  the  south-east  angle 
between  the  south  transept  and  the  chancel,  the  inner  angle  at  the  junction 
of  the  transept  and  chancel  walls  is  cut  away,  from  the  floor  upwards,  to  the 

In  the  Lichfield  Registers  we  find  that,  on  February  10,  1409,  the  bishop  granted  to 
Brother  Richard  Goldestone,  late  canon  of  Wombrugge,  now  recluse  at  Prior's  Lee,  near 
Shiffenale,  license  to  hear  confessions.     (History  of  Whalley,  p.  55.) 

140         The  Hermits  and  Recluses  of  the  Middle  Ages. 

height  of  six  feet,  and  laterally  about  five  feet  in  south  and  east  directions 
from  the  angle.  A  short  octagonal  pillar,  six  feet  high,  supports  all  that 
remains  of  the  angle  of  these  walls,  whilst  the  walls  themselves  rest  on  two 
flat  segmental  arches  of  three  feet  span.  A  low  diagonal  wall  is  built 
across  the  angle  thus  exposed,  and  a  small  lean-to  roof  is  run  up  from  it 
into  the  external  angle  enclosing  a  triangular  space  within.  In  this  wall  the 
low  side-window  is  inserted.  The  sill  of  the  window  is  four  feet  from  the 
pavement.  Further  eastward  a  priest's  door  seems  to  have  formed  part  of 
the  arrangement.  The  west  jamb  of  the  doorway  is  cut  away  so  that  from 
this  triangular  space  and  from  the  transept  beyond  a  view  is  obtained  of 
the  east  window. 

The  position  of  the  low  side-windows  at  Grade,  Cury,  and  Landewednack 
is  the  same  as  that  of  Mawgan,  but  the  window  itself  is  different  in  form, 
those  at  Grade  and  at  Cury  being  small  oblong  openings,  the  former  i  ft 
9  in.  by  i  ft.  4  in.,  the  sill  only  1  ft.  9  in.  from  the  ground ;  the  latter  is  1  ft. 
by  11  in.,  the  sill  3  ft.  4  in.  from  ground.  At  Landewednack  the  window 
has  two  lights,  square  headed,  2  ft.  6  in.  by  1  ft.  4  in.,  sill  4  ft.  3^  in.  from 
ground.  A  large  block  of  serpentine  rock  is  fixed  in  the  ground  beneath 
the  window  in  a  position  convenient  for  a  person  standing  but  nol 
kneeling  at  the  window.* 

Knighton  gives  us  some  particulars  of  a  recluse  priest  who  lived  at 
Leicester.  "  There  was,"  he  says,  "  in  those  days  at  Leicester,  a  certain 
priest,  hight  William  of  Swynderby,  whom  they  commonly  called  William 
the  Hermit,  because,  for  a  long  time,  he  had  lived  the  hermitical  life  there ; 
they  received  him  into  a  certain  chamber  within  the  church,  because  of  the 
holiness  they  believed  to  be  in  him,  and  they  procured  for  him  victuals 
and  a  pension,  after  the  manner  of  other  priests."  t 

In  the  "  Test.  Ebor.,"  p.  244,  we  find  a  testator  leaving  "  to  the  chantry 
chapel  of  Kenby  my  red  vestment,  ....  also  the  great  missal  and  the 
great  portifer,  which  I  bought  of  Dominus  Thomas  Cope,  priest  and 
anchorite  in  that  chapel."     Blomfield  also  (ii.  75)  tells  us  of  a  hermit,  who 

•  Paper  by  J.  J.  Rogers,  Archceological  Journal,  xi.  33. 
t  Twysden's  "  Henry  de  Knighton,"  vol.  ii.  p.  2665. 

The  Reclusorium.  1 4  ■ 


lived  in  St.  Cuthbert's  Church,  Thetford,  and  performed  divine  service 

Who  has  not,  at  some  time,  been  deeply  impressed  by  the  solemn  still- 
ness, the  holy  calm,  of  an  empty  church  ?  Earthly  passions,  and  cares, 
and  ambitions,  seemed  to  have  died  away;  one's  soul  was  filled  with 
a  spiritual  peace.  One  stood  and  listened  to  the  wind  surging  against 
the  walls  outside,  as  the  waves  of  the  sea  may  beat  against  the  walls 
of  an  ingulfed  temple ;  and  one  felt  as  effectually  secluded  from 
the  surge  and  roar  of  the  worldly  life  outside  the  sacred  walls,  as  if  in 
such  a  temple  at  the  bottom  of  the  sea.  One  gazed  upon  the  monu- 
mental effigies,  with  their  hands  clasped  in  an  endless  prayer,  and  their 
passionless  marble  faces  turned  for  ages  heavenward,  and  read  their 
mouldering  epitaphs,  and  moralized  on  the  royal  preacher's  text — "  All  is 
vanity  and  vexation  of  spirit"  And  then  one  felt  the  disposition — and, 
perhaps,  indulged  it — to  kneel  before  the  altar,  all  alone  with  God,  in  that 
still  and  solemn  church,  and  pour  out  one's  high-wrought  thoughts  before 
Him.  At  such  times  one  has  probably  tasted  something  of  the  transcen- 
dental charm  of  the  life  of  a  recluse  priest  One  could  not  sustain  the 
tension  long.  Perhaps  the  old  recluse,  with  his  experience  and  his  aids, 
could  maintain  it  for  a  longer  period.  But  to  him,  too,  the  natural 
reaction  must  have  come  in  time ;  and  then  he  had  his  mechanical  occupa- 
tions to  fall  back  upon — trimming  the  lamps  before  the  shrines,  copying 
his  manuscript,  or  illuminating  its  initial  letters;  perhaps,  for  health's 
sake,  he  took  a  daily  walk  up  and  down  the  aisle  of  the  church,  whose 
walls  re-echoed  his  measured  footfalls;  then  he  had  his  oft-recurring 
"hours"  to  sing,  and  his  books  to  read;  and,  to  prevent  the  long  hours 
which  were  still  left  him  in  his  little  par-closed  chapel  from  growing 
too  wearily  monotonous,  there  came,  now  and  then,  a  tap  at  the  shutter 
of  his  "parlour"  window,  which  heralded  the  visit  of  some  poor  soul, 
seeking  counsel  or  comfort  in  his  difficulties  of  this  world  or  the  next, 
or  some  pilgrim  bringing  news  of  distant  lands,  or  some  errant  knight  seeking 
news  of  adventures,  or  some  parishioner  come  honestly  to  have  a  dish  of 
gossip  with  the  holy  man,  about  the  good  and  evil  doings  of  his  neighbours. 

There  is  a  pathetic  anecdote  in  Blomfield's  "  Norfolk,"  which  will  show 

142         The  Hermits  and  Recluses  of  the  Middle  Ages, 

that  the  spirit  and  tl.e  tradition  of  the  old  recluse  priests  survived  the 
Reformation.  The  Rev.  Mr.  John  Gibbs,  formerly  rector  of  Gessing,  in 
that  county,  was  ejected  from  his  rectory  in  1690  as  a  non-juror.  "He 
was  an  odd  but  harmless  man,  both  in  life  and  conversation.  After  his 
ejection  he  dwelt  in  the  north  porch  chamber,  and  laid  on  the  stairs  that 
led  up  to  the  rood-loft,  between  the  church  and  chancel,  having  a  window 
at  his  head,  so  that  he  could  lie  in  his  couch,  and  see  the  altar.  He  lived 
to  be  very  old,  and  was  buried  at  Frenze." 

Let  us  turn  again  to  the  female  recluse,  in  her  anchor-house  outside  the 
church.  How  was  her  cell  furnished  ?  It  had  always  a  little  altar  at  the 
east  end,  before  which  the  recluse  paid  her  frequent  devotions,  hearing, 
besides,  the  daily  mass  in  church  through  her  window,  and  receiving  the 
Holy  Sacrament  at  stated  times.  Bishop  Poore  advises  his  recluses  to 
receive  it  only  fifteen  times  a  year.  The  little  square  unglazed  window 
was  closed  with  a  shutter,  and  a  black  curtain  with  a  white  cross  upon  it 
also  hung  before  the  opening,  through  which  the  recluse  could  converse 
without  being  seen.  The  walls  appear  to  have  been  sometimes  painted 
— of  course  with  devotional  subjects.  To  complete  the  scene  add  a 
comfortable  carved  oak  chair,  and  a  little  table,  an  embroidery  frame,  and 
such  like  appliances  for  needlework ;  a  book  of  prayers,  and  another  of 
saintly  legends,  not  forgetting  Bishop  Poore's  "  Ancren  Riewle ; "  a  fire  on 
the  hearth  in  cold  weather,  and  the  cat,  which  Bishop  Poore  expressly 
allows,  purring  beside  it;  and  lastly  paint  in  the  recluse,  in  her  black 
habit  and  veil,  seated  in  her  chair;  or  prostrate  before  her  little  altar; 
or  on  her  knees  beside  her  church  window  listening  to  the  chanted  mass ; 
or  receiving  her  basket  of  food  from  her  servant,  through  the  open  parlour 
window;  or  standing  before  its  black  curtain,  conversing  with  a  stray 
knight-errant ;  or  putting  her  white  hand  through  it,  to  give  an  alms  to  some 
village  crone  or  wandering  beggar. 

A  few  extracts  from  Bishop  Poore's  "  Ancren  Riewle,"  already  several 
times  alluded  to,  will  give  life  to  the  picture  we  have  painted.  Though 
intended  for  the  general  use  of  recluses,  it  seems  to  have  been  specially 
addressed,  in  the  first  instance,  to  three  sisters,  who,  in  the  bloom  of  youth, 

The  Recluse  Life.  143 

forsook  the  world,  and  became  the  tenants  of  a  reclusorium.  It  would 
seem  that  in  such  cases  each  recluse  had  a  separate  cell,  and  did  not  com- 
municate, except  on  rare  occasions,  with  her  fellow  inmates ;  and  each  had 
her  own  separate  servant  to  wait  upon  her.  Here  are  some  particulars  as 
to  their  communication  with  the  outer  world.  "  Hold  no  conversation 
with  any  man  out  of  a  church  window,  but  respect  it  for  the  sake  of  the 
Holy  Sacrament  which  ye  see  there  through  ;*  and  at  other  times  (other 
whiles)  take  your  women  to  the  window  of  the  house  (huses  thurle),  other 
men  and  women  to  the  parlour-window  to  speak  when  necessary;  nor 
ought  ye  (to  converse)  but  at  these  two  windows."  Here  we  have  three 
windows ;  we  have  no  difficulty  in  understanding  which  was  the  church- 
window,  and  the  parlour-window — the  window  pour parler  ;  but  what  was 
the  house-window,  through  which  the  recluse  might  speak  to  her  servant  ? 
^Vas  it  merely  the  third  glazed  window,  through  which  she  might,  if  it  were 
convenient,  talk  with  her  maid,  but  not  with  strangers,  because  she  would 
be  seen  through  it  ?  or  was  it  a  window  in  the  larger  anchorholds,  between 
the  recluse  cell,  and  the  other  apartment  in  which  her  maid  lived,  and  in 
which,  perhaps,  guests  were  entertained  ?  The  latter  seems  the  more  pro- 
bable explanation,  and  will  receive  further  confirmation  when  we  come  to 
the  directions  about  the  entertainment  of  guests.  The  recluse  was  not  to 
give  way  to  the  very  natural  temptation  to  put  her  head  out  of  the  open 
window,  to  get  sometimes  a  wider  view  of  the  world  about  her.  "  A 
peering  anchoress,  who  is  always  thrusting  her  head  outward,"  he  compares 
to  "  an  untamed  bird  in  a  cage  " — poor  human  bird  !  In  another  place  he 
gives  a  more  serious  exhortation  on  the  same  subject  "  Is  not  she  too 
forward  and  foolhardy  who  holds  her  head  boldly  forth  on  the  open  battle- 
ments while  men  with  crossbow  bolts  without  assail  the  castle  ?  Surely 
our  foe,  the  warrior  of  hell,  shoots,  as  I  ween,  more  bolts  at  one  anchoress 
than  at  seventy  and  seven  secular  ladies.  The  battlements  of  the  castle 
are  the  windows  of  their  houses ;  let  her  not  look  out  at  them,  lest  she 

*  The  translator  of  this  book  for  the  Camden  Society's  edition  of  it,  says  "  therein," 
but  the  word  in  the  original  Saxon  English  is  "  ther  thurgh."  It  refers  to  the  window 
looking  into  the  church,  through  which  the  lecluse  looked  down  daily  upon  the  celebra- 
tion of  the  mass. 

144         The  Hermits  and  Recluses  of  the  Middle  Ages. 

have  the  devil's  bolts  between  her  eyes  before  she  even  thinks  of  it."  Here 
are  directions  how  to  cany  on  her  "parlements": — "  First  of  all,  when  you 
have  to  go  to  your  parlour-window,  learn  from  your  maid  who  it  is  that  is 

come ; and  when  you  must  needs  go  forth,  go  forth  in  the  fear  of 

God  to  a  priest, and  sit  and  listen,  and  not  cackle."     They  were 

to  be  on  their  guard  even  with  religious  men,  and  not  even  confess,  except 
in  presence  of  a  witness.  "  If  any  man  requests  to  see  you  (i.e.  to  have 
the  black  curtain  drawn  aside),  ask  him  what  good  might  come  of  it.  .  .  . 
If  any  one  become  so  mad  and  unreasonable  that  he  puts  forth  his  hand 
toward  the  window-cloth  (curtain),  shut  the  window  {i.e.  close  the  shutter) 
quickly,  and  leave  him ;  .  .  .  .  and  as  soon  as  any  man  falls  into  evil 
discourse,  close  the  window,  and  go  away  with  this  verse,  that  he  may  hear 
it,  '  The  wicked  have  told  me  foolish  tales,  but  not  according  to  thy  law ; ' 
and  go  forth  before  your  altar,  and  say  the  '  Miserere.' "  Again,  "  Keep 
your  hands  within  your  windows,  for  handling  or  touching  between  a  man 
and  an  anchoress  is  a  thing  unnatural,  shameful,  wicked,"  &c. 

The  bishop  adds  a  characteristic  piece  of  detail  to  our  picture  when  he 
speaks  of  the  fair  complexions  of  the  recluses  because  not  sunburnt,  and 
their  white  hands  through  not  working,  both  set  in  strong  relief  by  the 
black  colour  of  the  habit  and  veil.  He  says,  indeed,  that  "  since  no  man 
seeth  you,  nor  ye  see  any  man,  ye  may  be  content  with  your  clothes  white 
or  black."  But  in  practice  they  seem  usually  to  have  worn  black  habits, 
unless,  when  attached  to  the  church  of  any  monastery,  they  may  have 
worn  the  habit  of  the  order.  They  were  not  to  wear  rings,  brooches, 
ornamented  girdles,  or  gloves.  "  An  anchoress,"  he  says,  "  ought  to  take 
sparingly  (of  alms),  only  that  which  is  necessary  (i.e.  she  ought  not  to  take 
alms  to  give  away  again).  If  she  can  spare  any  fragments  of  her  food, 
let  her  send  them  away  (to  some  poor  person)  privately  out  of  her  dwelling. 
For  the  devil,"  he  says  elsewhere,  "  tempts  anchoresses,  through  their 
charity,  to  collect  to  give  to  the  poor,  then  to  a  friend,  then  to  make  a 
feast."  "  There  are  anchoresses,"  he  says,  "  who  make  their  meals  with 
their  friends  without ;  that  is  too  much  friendship."  The  editor  thinks 
this  to  mean  that  some  anchoresses  left  their  cells,  and  went  to  dine  at  the 
houses  of  their  friends ;  but  the  word  is  gistes  (guests),  and,  more  probably, 

The  Recluse  Life.  145 

it  only  means  that  the  recluse  ate  her  dinner  in  her  cell  while  a  guest  ate 
hers  in  the  guest-room  of  the  reclusorium,  with  an  open  window  between, 
so  that  they  could  see  and  converse  with  one  another.     For  we  find  in 

another  place  that  she  was  to  maintain  "  silence  always  at  meals ; 

and  if  any  one  hath  a  guest  whom  she  holds  dear,  she  may  cause  her 
maid,  as  in  her  stead,  to  entertain  her  friend  with  glad  cheer,  and  she  shall 
have  leave  to  open  her  window  once  or  twice,  and  make  signs  to  her  of 
gladness."  But  "  let  no  man  eat  in  your  presence,  except  he  be  in  great 
need.  The  narrative  already  given  at  p.  109,  of  the  visit  of  St.  Richard  the 
hermit  to  Dame  Margaret  the  recluse  of  Anderby,  also  shows  that  in 
exceptional  cases  a  recluse  ate  with  men.  The  incident  of  the  head  of 
the  recluse,  in  her  convulsive  sleep,  falling  at  the  window  at  which  the 
hermit  was  reclining,  and  leaning  partly  upon  him,*  is  explained  by  the 
theory  that  they  were  sitting  in  separate  apartments,  each  close  by  this 
house  window,  which  was  open  between  them.  As  we  have  already  seen,  in 
the  case  of  Sir  Percival,  a  man  might  even  sleep  in  the  reclusorium  ;  and  so 
the  Rule  says,  "  let  no  man  sleep  within  your  walls  "  as  a  general  rule ;  "  i£ 
however,  great  necessity  should  cause  your  house  to  be  used  ■  by  travellers, 
u  see  that  ye  have  a  woman  of  unspotted  life  with  you  day  and  night." 

As  to  their  occupations,  he  advises  them  to  make  "  no  purses  and  blod- 
bendes  of  silk,  but  shape  and  sew  and  mend  church  vestments,  and  poor 
people's  clothes,  and  help  to  clothe  yourselves  and  your  domestics."  "  An 
anchoress  must  not  become  a  school-mistress,  nor  turn  her  house  into  a 
school  for  children.  Her  maiden  may,  however,  teach  any  little  girl  con- 
cerning whom  it  might  be  doubtful  whether  she  should  learn  among  the 

Doubtless,  we  are  right  in  inferring  from  the  bishop's  advice  not  to  do 
certain  things,  that  anchoresses  were  in  the  habit  of  doing  them.  From 
this  kind  of  evidence  we  glean  still  further  traits.  He  suggests  to  them 
that  in  confession  they  will  perhaps  have  to  mention  such  faults  as  these, 

*  "  Caput  suum  decidit  ad  fenestram  ad  quam  se  reclinabit  sanctus  Dei  Ricardus." 
t  In  one  of  the  stories  of  Reginald  of  Durham  we  learn  that  a  school,  according  to  a 
custcn  then  "  common  enough,"  was  kept  in  the  church  of  Norham  on  Tweed,  the  parish 
priest  being  the  teacher.     (Wright's  "Domestic  Manners  of  the  Middle  Ages,"  p.  117.) 


146         The  Hermits  and  Recluses  of  the  Middle  Ages. 

"  I  played  or  spoke  thus  in  the  church ;  went  to  the  play  in  the  church- 
yard ;  *  looked  on  at  this,  or  at  the  wrestling,  or  other  foolish  sports ; 
spoke  thus,  or  played,  in  the  presence  of  secular  men,  or  of  religious  men, 
in  a  house  of  anchorites,  and  at  a  different  window  than  I  ought ;  or,  being 
alone  in  the  church,  I  thought  thus."  Again  he  mentions,  "  Sitting  too 
long  at  the  parlour-window,  spilling  ale,  dropping  crumbs."  Again  we 
find,  "  Make  no  banquetings,  nor  encourage  any  strange  vagabonds  about 
the  gate."  But  of  all  their  failings,  gossiping  seems  to  have  been  the 
besetting  sin  of  anchoresses.  "  People  say  of  anchoresses  that  almost 
every  one  hath  an  old  woman  to  feed  her  ears,  a  prating  gossip,  who 
tells  her  all  the  tales  of  the  land,  a  magpie  that  chatters  to  her  of  every- 
thing that  she  sees  or  hears ;  so  that  it  is  a  common  saying,  from  mill  and 
from  market,  from  smithy  and  from  anchor-house,  men  bring  tidings." 

Let  us  add  the  sketch  drawn  of  them  by  the  unfavourable  hand  of 
Bilney  the  Reformer,  in  his  "  Reliques  of  Rome,"  published  in  1563,  and 
we  have  done  : — "  As  touching  the  monastical  sect  of  recluses,  and  such  as 
be  shutte  up  within  walls,  there  unto  death  continuall  to  remayne,  giving 
themselves  to  the  mortification  of  carnal  effects,  to  the  contemplation  of 
heavenly  and  spirituall  thinges,  to  abstinence,  to  prayer,  and  to  such  other 
ghostly  exercises,  as  men  dead  to  the  world,  and  havyng  their  lyfe  hidden 
with  Christ,  I  have  not  to  write.  Forasmuch  as  I  cannot  fynde  probably 
in  any  author  whence  the  profession  of  anckers  and  anckresses  had  the 
beginning  and  foundation,  although  in  this  behalf  I  have  talked  with  men 
of  that  profession  which  could  very  little  or  nothing  say  of  the  matter. 
Notwithstanding,  as  the  Whyte  Fryers  father  that  order  on  Helias  the 
prophet  (but  falsely),  so  likewise  do  the  ankers  and  ankresses  make  that 
holy  and  virtuous  matrone  Judith  their  patroness  and  foundress ;  but  how 
unaptly  who  seeth  not?     Their  profession  and  religion  differeth  as  <ar 

•  These  two  expressions  seem  to  imply  that  recluses  sometimes  went  out  of  their 
cell,  not  only  into  the  church,  but  also  into  the  churchyard.  We  have  already  noticed 
that  the  technical  word  "  cell "  seems  to  have  included  eveiything  within  the  enclosure 
wall  of  the  whole  establishment.  Is  it  possible  that  in  the  case  of  anchorages  adjoining 
churches,  the  churchyard  wall  represented  this  enclosure,  and  the  "  cell "  included  both 
church  and  churchyard  ? 

The  Recluse  Life.  147 

from  the  manners  of  Judith  as  light  from  darknesse,  or  God  from  the 
devill,  as  shall  manifestly  appere  to  them  that  will  diligendye  conferre  the 
history  of  Judith  with  their  life  and  conversation.  Judith  made  herself  a 
privy  chamber  where  she  dwelt  (sayth  the  scripture),  being  closed  in  with 
her  maydens.  Our  recluses  also  close  themselves  within  the  walls,  but 
they  suffer  no  man  to  be  there  with  them.  Judith  ware  a  smoche  of  heare, 
but  our  recluses  are  both  softly  and  finely  apparalled.  Judith  fasted  all 
the  days  of  her  lyfe,  few  excepted.  Our  recluses  eate  and  drinke  at  all 
tymes  of  the  beste,  being  of  the  number  of  them  qui  curios  simulant  d 
Bacchanalia  vivunt.  Judith  was  a  woman  of  a  very  good  report.  Our 
recluses  are  reported  to  be  superstitious  and  idolatrous  persons,  and  such 
as  all  good  men  fiye  their  company.  Judith  feared  the  Lord  gready,  and 
lyved  according  to  His  holy  word.  Our  recluses  fear  the  pope,  and  gladly 
doe  what  his  pleasure  is  to  command  them.  Judith  lyved  of  her  own  sub- 
stance and  goods,  putting  no  man  to  charge.  Our  recluses,  as  persons 
only  borne  to  consume  the  good  fruits  of  the  erth,  lyve  idely  of  the  labour 
01"  other  men's  handes.  Judith,  when  tyme  required,  came  out  of  her 
closet,  to  do  good  unto  other.  Our  recluses  never  come  out  of  their 
lobbies,  sincke  or  swimme  the  people.  Judith  put  herself  in  jeopardy  for 
to  do  good  to  the  common  countrye.  Our  recluses  are  unprofitable  clods 
of  the  earth,  doing  good  to  no  man.  Who  seeth  not  how  farre  our  ankers 
and  ankresses  differe  from  the  manners  and  life  of  this  vertuous  and  godly 
woman  Judith,  so  that  they  cannot  jusdy  claime  her  to  be  their  patronesse  ? 
Of  some  idle  and  superstitious  heremite  borrowed  they  their  idle  and  super- 
stitious religion.  For  who  knoweth  not  that  our  recluses  have  grates  of 
yron  in  theyr  spelunckes,  and  dennes  out  of  the  which  they  looke,  as  owles 
out  of  an  yvye  todde,  when  they  will  vouchsafe  to  speake  with  any  man 
at  whose  hand  they  hope  for  advantage?  So  reade  we  in  *  Vitis  Patrum,' 
that  John  the  Heremite  so  enclosed  himself  in  his  hermitage  that  no 
person  came  in  unto  him;  to  them  that  came  to  visite  him  he  spoke 
through  a  window  onely.  Our  ankers  and  ankresses  professe  nothing  but 
a  solitary  lyfe  in  their  hallowed  house,  wherein  they  are  inclosed  wyth  the 
vowe  of  obedience  to  the  pope,  and  to  their  ordinary  bishop.  Their 
apparel  is  indifferent,  so  it  be  dissonant  from  the  laity.    No  kind  of  meates 

148         The  Hermits  and  Recluses  of  the  Middle  Ages, 

they  are  forbidden  to  eat.  At  midnight  they  are  bound  to  say  certain 
prayers.  Their  profession  is  counted  to  be  among  other  professions  so 
hardye  and  so  streight  that  they  may  by  no  means  be  suffered  to  come  out 
of  their  houses  except  it  be  to  take  on  them  an  harder  and  streighter, 
which  is  to  be  made  a  bishop." 

It  is  not  to  be  expected  that  mediaeval  paintings  should  give  illustrations 
of  persons  who  were  thus  never  visible  in  the  world.    In  the  pictures  of  the 

hermits  of  the  Egyptian  desert,  on  the  walls  of 
the  Campo  Santo  at  Pisa,  we  see  a  representa- 
tion of  St.  Anthony  holding  a  conversation 
with  St.  John  the  Hermit,  who  is  just  visible 
through  his  grated  window,  "  like  an  owl  in 
an  ivy  tod,"  as  Bilney  says ;  and  we  have 
already  given  a  picture  of  Sir  Percival  knock- 
ing at  the  door  of  a  female  recluse.  Bilney 
says,  that  they  wore  any  costume,  "  so  it  were 
dissonant  from  the  laity ; "  but  in  all  proba- 
bility they  commonly  wore  a  costume  similar 
in  colour  to  that  of  the  male  hermits.  The 
picture  which  we  here  give  of  an  anchoress, 
is  taken  from  a  figure  of  St  Paula,  one  of 
the  anchorite  saints  of  the  desert,  in  the 
same  picture  of  St.  Jerome,  which  has  already 
supplied  us,  in  the  figure  of  St.  Damasus, 
with  our  best  picture  of  the  hermit's  cos- 

The  service  for  enclosing  a  recluse  *  may  be  found  in  some  of  the  old 
Service  Books.  We  derive  the  following  account  of  it  from  an  old 
black-letter  Manuale  ad  usum  percelebris  ecclesie  Sarisburiensis  (London, 
1554),  in  the  British  Museum.  The  rubric  before  the  service  orders  that  no 

St.  Paula. 

*  A  commission  given  by  William  of  Wykham,  Bishop  of  Winchester,  for  enclosing 
Lucy  de  Newchurch  as  an  anchoritess  in  the  hermitage  of  St.  Brendun,  at  Bristol,  is 
given  in  Burnett's  "History  and  Antiquities  of  Bristol,"  p.  61. 

The  Service  for  Enclosing.  149 

one  shall  be  enclosed  without  the  bishop's  leave ;  that  the  candidate  shall  be 
closely  questioned  as  to  his  motives ;  that  he  shall  be  taught  not  to  enter- 
tain proud  thoughts,  as  if  he  merited  to  be  set  apart  from  intercourse  with 
common  men,  but  rather  on  account  of  his  own  infirmity  it  was  good 
that  he  should  be  removed  from  contact  with  others,  that  he  might  be  kept 
out  of  sin  himself,  and  not  contaminate  them.  So  that  the  recluse  should 
esteem  himself  to  be  condemned  for  his  sins,  and  shut  up  in  his  solitary 
cell  as  in  a  prison,  and  unworthy,  for  his  sins,  of  the  society  of  men. 
There  is  a  note,  that  this  office  shall  serve  for  both  sexes.  On  the  day 
before  the  ceremony  of  inclusion,  the  Indudendus — the  person  about  to  be 
inclosed — was  to  confess,  and  to  fast  that  day  on  bread  and  water ;  and  all 
that  night  he  was  to  watch  and  pray,  having  his  wax  taper  burning,  in  the 
monastery,*  near  his  inclusorium.  On  the  morrow,  all  being  assembled  in 
church,  the  bishop,  or  priest  appointed  by  him,  first  addressed  an  exhorta- 
tion to  the  people  who  had  come  to  see  the  ceremony,  and  to  the  indu- 
dendus himself,  and  then  began  the  service  with  a  response,  and  several 
appropriate  psalms  and  collects.  After  that,  the  priest  put  on  his  chasuble, 
and  began  mass,  a  special  prayer  being  introduced  for  the  includendus. 
After  the  reading  of  the  gospel,  the  includendus  stood  before  the  altar,  and 
offered  his  taper,  which  was  to  remain  burning  on  the  altar  throughout  the 
mass ;  and  then,  standing  before  the  altar-step,  he  read  his  profession,  or  if 
he  were  a  layman  (and  unable  to  read),  one  of  the  chorister  boys  read  it 
for  him.  And  this  was  the  form  of  his  profession  : — "  I,  brother  (or  sister) 
N,  offer  and  present  myself  to  serve  the  Divine  Goodness  in  the  order  of 
Anchorites,  and  I  promise  to  remain,  according  to  the  rule  of  that  order, 
in  the  service  of  God,  from  henceforth,  by  the  grace  of  God,  and  the 
counsel  of  the  Church."  Then  he  signed  the  document  in  which  his 
profession  was  written  with  the  sign  of  the  cross,  and  laid  it  upon  the 
altar  on  bended  knees.  Then  the  bishop  or  priest  said  a  prayer,  and 
asperged  with  holy  water  the  habit  of  the  includendus ;  and  he  put  on  the 
habit,  and  prostrated  himself  before  the  altar,  and  so  remained,  while  the 

•  "  In  monasterio  inclusorio  suo  vicino ;  "  it  seems  as  if  the  writer  of  the  rubric  were 
specially  thinking  of  the  inclusoria  within  monasteries. 

150         The  Hermits  and  Recluses  of  the  Middle  Ages. 

priest  and  choir  sang  over  him  the  hymn  Veni  Creator  Spiritus,  and  then 
proceeded  with  the  mass.  First  the  priest  communicated,  then  the  inclu- 
dendus,  and  then  the  rest  of  the  congregation ;  and  the  mass  was  concluded. 
Next  his  wax  taper,  which  had  all  this  time  been  burning  on  the  altar,  was 
given  to  the  includendus,  and  a  procession  was  formed ;  first  the  choir ;  then 
the  includendus,  clad  in  his  proper  habit,  and  carrying  his  lighted  taper ; 
then  the  bishop  or  priest,  in  his  mass  robes ;  and  then  the  people  following; 
and  so  they  proceeded,  singing  a  solemn  litany,  to  the  cell.  And  first  the 
priest  entered  alone  into  the  cell,  and  asperged  it  with  holy  water,  saying 
appropriate  sentences ;  then  he  consecrated  and  blessed  the  cell,  with  prayers 
offered  before  the  altar  of  its  chapel.  The  third  of  these  short  prayers 
may  be  transcribed :  "  Benedic  domine  domum  istam  et  locum  istum,  ut 
sit  in  eo  sanitas,  sanctitas,  castitas,  virtus,  victoria,  sanctimonia,  humilitas, 
lenitas,  mansuetudo,  plenitudo,  legis  et  obedientse  Deo  Patre  et  Filio  et 
Spiritui  Sancto  et  sit  super  locum  istum  et  super  omnes  habitantes  in  eo 
tua  larga  benedictio,  ut  in  his  manufactis  habitaculis  cum  solemtate 
manentes  ipsi  tuum  sit  semper  habitaculum.  Per  dominum,"  &c.  Then 
the  bishop  or  priest  came  out,  and  led  in  the  includendus,  still  carrying 
his  lighted  taper,  and  solemnly  blessed  him.  And  then — a  mere  change  in 
the  tense  of  the  rubric  has  an  effect  which  is  quite  pathetic ;  it  is  no  longer 
the  includendus,  the  person  to  be  enclosed,  but  the  inclusus,  the  enclosed 
one,  he  or  she  upon  whom  the  doors  of  the  cell  have  closed  for  ever  in 
this  life — then  the  enclosed  is  to  maintain  total  and  solemn  silence 
throughout,  while  the  doors  are  securely  closed,  the  choir  chanting  appro- 
priate psalms.  Then  the  celebrant  causes  all  the  people  to  pray  for  the 
inclusus  privately,  in  solemn  silence,  to  God,  for  whose  love  he  has  left  the 
world,  and  caused  himself  to  be  inclosed  in  that  strait  prison.  And  after 
some  concluding  prayers,  the  procession  left  the  inclusus  to  his  solitary 
life,  and  returned,  chanting,  to  the  church,  finishing  at  the  step  of  the  choir. 
One  cannot  read  this  solemn — albeit  superstitious — service,  in  the  quaint 
old  mediaeval  character,  out  of  the  very  book  which  has,  perhaps,  been 
used  in  the  actual  enclosing  of  some  recluse,  without  being  moved.  Was 
it  some  frail  woman,  with  all  the  affections  of  her  heart  and  the  hopes  of 
her  earthly  life  shattered,  who  sought  the  refuge  of  this  living  tomb  ?  was 

The  Service  for  Enclosing.  151 

it  some  man  of  strong  passions,  wild  and  fierce  in  his  crimes,  as  wild  and 
fierce  in  his  penitence  ?  or  was  it  some  enthusiast,  with  the  over-excited 
religious  sensibility,  of  which  we  have  instances  enough  in  these  days? 
We  can  see  them  still,  in  imagination,  prostrate,  "in  total  and  solemn 
silence,"  before  the  wax  taper  placed  upon  the  altar  of  the  little  chapel 
and  listening  while  the  chant  of  the  returning  procession  grows  fainter  and 
fainter  in  the  distance.  Ah  !  we  may  scornfully  smile  at  it  all  as  a  wild  super- 
stition, or  treat  it  coldly  as  a  question  of  mere  antiquarian  interest ;  but 
what  broken  hearts,  what  burning  passions,  have  been  shrouded  under  that 
recluse's  robe,  and  what  wild  cries  of  human  agony  have  been  stifled  under 
that  "  total  and  solemn  silence  ! "  When  the  processional  chant  had  died 
away  in  the  distance,  and  the  recluse's  taper  had  burnt  out  on  his  little 
altar,  was  that  the  end  of  the  tragedy,  or  only  the  end  of  the  first  act? 
Did  the  broken  heart  find  repose  ?  Did  the  wild  spirit  grow  tame  ?  Or  did 
the  one  pine  away  and  die  like  a  flower  in  a  dungeon,  and  the  other  beat 
itself  to  death  against  the  bars  of  its  self-made  cage  ? 



j  ESIDES  all  other  religious  people  living  under  vows,  in  commu- 
nity in  monasteries,  or  as  solitaries  in  their  anchorages,  there  were 
also  a  number  of  Widows  vowed  to  that  life  and  devoted  to  the 
service  of  God,  who  lived  at  home  in  their  own  houses  or  with  their 
families.  This  was  manifestly  a  continuation,  or  imitation,  of  the  primitive 
Order  of  Widows,  of  whom  St.  Paul  speaks  in  his  first  Epistle  to  Timothy 
(ch.  v.).  For  although  religious  women,  from  an  early  period  (fourth  cen- 
tury), were  usually  nuns,  the  primitive  Orders  of  Deaconesses  and  Widows 
did  not  altogether  cease  to  exist  in  the  Church.  The  Service  Books* 
contain  offices  for  their  benediction ;  and  though  it  is  probable  that  in  fact 
a  deaconess  was  very  rarely  consecrated  in  the  Western  Church,  yet  the 
number  of  allusions  to  widows  throughout  the  Middle  Ages  leads  us  to 
suspect  that  there  may  have  been  no  inconsiderable  number  of  them.  A 
common  form  of  commission!  to  a  suffragan  bishop  includes  the  conse- 
crating of  widows.  From  the  Pontifical  of  Edmund  Lacey,  Bishop  of 
Exeter,  of  the  fourteenth  century,  we  give  a  sketch  of  the  service.}:  It  is  the 
same  in  substance  as  those  in  the  earlier  books.  First,  a  rubric  states  that 
though  a  widow  may  be  blessed  on  any  day,  it  is  more  fitting  that  she  be 
blessed  on  a  holy  day,  and  especially  on  the  Lord's  day.    Between  the 

*  The    Ordo    Romanus.     The  Pontifical   of  Egbert.     The  Pontifical  of  Bishop 

t  Guardian  newspaper,  Feb.  7,  1870. 

J  Surrey  Society's  Transactions,  vol.  iii.  p.  218. 

The  Consecration  Service.  153 

Epistle  and  the  Gospel,  the  bishop  sitting  on  a  faldstool  facing  the  people, 
the  widow  kneeling  before  the  bishop  is  to  be  interrogated  if  she  desires, 
putting  away  all  carnal  affections,  to  be  joined  as  a  spouse  to  Christ 
Then  she  shall  publicly  in  the  vulgar  tongue  profess  herself,  in  the  bishop's 
hands,  resolved  to  observe  perpetual  continence.  Then  the  bishop 
blesses  her  habit  (clamidem),  saying  a  collect.  Then  the  bishop,  genu- 
flecting, begins  the  hymn  Veni  Creator  Spiritus ;  the  widow  puts  on 
the  habit  and  veil,  and  the  bishop  blesses  and  gives  her  the  ring ;  and 
with  a  final  prayer  for  appropriate  virtues  and  blessings,  the  ordinary 
service  of  Holy  Communion  is  resumed,  special  mention  of  the  widow 
being  made  therein. 

These  collects  are  of  venerable  age,  and  have  much  beauty  of  thought 
and  expression.  The  reader  may  be  glad  to  see  one  of  them  as  an 
example,  and  as  an  indication  of  the  spirit  in  which  people  entered  into 
these  religious  vows :  "  O  God,  the  gracious  inhabiter  of  chaste  bodies 
and  lover  of  uncorrupt  souls,  look  we  pray  Thee,  O  Lord,  upon  this  Thy 
servant,  who  humbly  offers  her  devotion  to  Thee.  May  there  be  in  her, 
O  Lord,  the  gift  of  Thy  spirit,  a  prudent  modesty,  a  wise  graciousness,  a 
grave  gentleness,  a  chaste  freedom ;  may  she  be  fervent  in  charity  and  love 
nothing  beside  Thee  (extra  te) ;  may  she  live  praiseworthy  and  not  desire 
praise ;  may  she  fear  Thee  and  serve  Thee  with  a  chaste  love ;  be  Thou 
to  her,  O  Lord,  honour,  Thou  delight ;  be  Thou  in  sorrow  her  comfort, 
in  doubt  her  counsellor ;  be  Thou  to  her  defence  in  injury,  in  tribulation 
patience,  in  poverty  abundance,  in  fasting  food,  in  sickness  medicine. 
By  Thee,  whom  she  desires  to  love  above  all  things,  may  she  keep  what 
she  has  vowed ;  so  that  by  Thy  help  she  may  conquer  the  old  enemy, 
and  cast  out  the  defilements  of  sin ;  that  she  may  be  decorated  with  the 
gift  of  fruit  sixty  fold,*  and  adorned  with  the  lamps  of  all  virtues,  and  by 
Thy  grace  may  be  worthy  to  join  the  company  of  the  elect  widows.  This 
we  humbly  ask  through  Jesus  Christ  our  Lord." 

*  The  same  collect,  with  a  few  variations,  was  used  also  in  the  consecration  of  nuns. 
Virgin  chastity  was  held  to  bring  forth  fruit  a  hundred  fold ;  widowed  chastity,  sixty 
fold;  uianied  chastity,  thirty  fold. 

1 54  Consecrated  Widows  of  the  Middle  Ages. 

In  a  paper  in  the  "  Surrey  Transactions,"  vol.  iii.  p.  208,  Mr.  Baigent,  the 
writer  of  it,  finds  two,  and  only  two,  entries  of  the  consecration  of  widows  in 
the  Episcopal  Registers  of  Winchester,  which  go  back  to  the  early  part  of 
the  reign  of  Edward  I.  The  first  of  these  is  on  May  4,  1348,  of  the  Lady 
Aleanor  Giffard,  probably,  says  Mr.  Baigent,  the  widow  of  John  Giffard, 
of  Bowers  Giffard,  in  Essex.  The  other  entry,  on  October  18,  1379,  is  of 
the  Benediction  of  Isabella  Burgh,  the  w'dow  of  a  citizen  of  London 
(whose  will  is  given  by  Mr.  Baigent),  and  of  Isabella  Golafre,  widow  of 
Sir  John  Golafre. 

The  profession  of  the  widow  is  given  in  old  French,  and  a  translation  of 
it  in  old  English,  as  follows :  "  In  ye  name  of  God,  Fader  and  Sone  and 
Holy  Ghost.  Iche  Isabelle  Burghe,  that  was  sometyme  wyfe  of  Thomas 
Burghe,  wyche  that  is  God  be  taught  helpynge  the  grace  of  God  [the 
parallel  French  is,  Quest  a  Dieu  commande  ottriaunte  la  grace  de  Dieu] 
behote  [promise]  conversione  of  myn  maners,  and  make  myn  avows  to 
God,  and  to  is  swete  moder  Seynte  Marie  and  to  alle  seintz,  into  youre  handes 
leve  [dear]  fader  in  God,  William  be  ye  grace  of  God  Bisshope  of  Wyn- 
chestre,  that  fro  this  day  forward  I  schal  ben  chaste  of  myn  body  and  in 
holy  chastite  kepe  me  treweliche  and  devouteliche  all  ye  dayes  of  myn  life." 
Another  form  of  profession  is  written  on  the  lower  margin  of  the  Exeter 
Pontifical,  and  probably  in  the  handwriting  of  Bishop  Lacy :  "  I,  N., 
wedowe,  avowe  to  God  perpetuall  chastite  of  my  body  from  henceforward, 
and  in  the  presence  of  the  honorable  fadyr  in  God,  my  Lord  N.,  by  the 
grace  of  God,  Bishop  of  N.,  I  promyth  sabilly  to  leve  in  the  Church,  a 
wedowe.  And  this  to  do,  of  myne  own  hand  I  subscribe  this  writing : 
Et postea  faciat  signum  cruris." 

Another  example  of  a  widow  in  the  Winchester  registers  is  that  of 
Elizabeth  de  Julien,  widow  of  John  Plantagenet,  Earl  of  Kent,  who  made 
that  vow  to  Bishop  William  de  Edyndon,  but  afterwards  married  Sir 
Eustache  Dabrichecourt,  September  29,  1360,  whereupon  proceedings  were 
commenced  against  her  by  the  Archbishop  of  Canterbury,  who  imposed  on 
her  a  severe  and  life-long  penance.  She  survived  her  second  husband 
many  years,  and  dying  in  141 1,  was  buried  in  the  choir  of  the  Friars 
Minor  at  Winchester,  near  the  tomb  of  her  first  husband. 

Vidua  ac  Deo  devota.  155 

The  epitaph  on  the  monumental  brass  of  Joanna  Braham,  a.d.  15 19,  at 
Frenze,  in  Norfolk,  describes  her  as  "  Vidua  ac  Deo  devota." 

In  the  Book  of  the  Knight  of  La  Tour-Landry  is  a  description  of  a 
lady  who,  if  she  had  not  actually  taken  the  vows  of  widowhood,  lived 
the  life  we  should  suppose  to  be  that  of  a  vowess.  "  It  is  of  a  good 
lady  whiche  longe  tyme  was  in  wydowhode.  She  was  of  a  holy  lyf, 
and  moste  humble  and  honourable,  as  the  whiche  every  yere  kepte  and 
held  a  feste  upon  Crystemasse-day  of  her  neyghbours  bothe  farre  and  nere, 
tyll  her  halle  was  ml  of  them.  She  served  and  honoured  eche  one  after 
his  degree,  and  specially  she  bare  grete  reverence  to  the  good  and  trewe 
wymmen,  and  to  them  whiche  has  deservyd  to  be  worshipped.  Also  she 
was  of  suche  customme  that  yf  she  knewe  any  poure  gentyll  woman 
that  shold  be  wedded  she  arayed  her  with  her  jewels.  Also  she  wente 
to  the  obsequye  of  the  poure  gentyll  wymmen,  and  gaf  there  torches,  and 
all  such  other  lumynary  as  it  neded  thereto.  Her  dayly  ordenaunce  was 
that  she  rose  erly  ynough,  and  had  ever  freres,  and  two  or  three  chappellayns 
whiche  sayd  matyns  before  her  within  her  oratorye ;  and  after  she  herd  a 
hyhe  masse  and  two  lowe,  and  sayd  her  servyse  full  devoutely;  and 
alter  this  she  wente  and  arayed  herself,  and  walked  in  her  gardyn,  or  else 
aboute  her  plase,  sayenge  her  other  devocions  and  prayers.  And  as  tyme 
was  she  wente  to  dyner ;  and  after  dyner,  if  she  wyste  and  knewe  ony 
seke  folke  or  wymmen  in  theyr  childbedde,  she  went  to  see  and  vysited 
them,  and  made  to  be  brought  to  them  of  her  best  mete.  And  then,  as 
she  myght  not  go  herself,  she  had  a  servant  propyer  therefore,  whiche 
rode  upon  a  lytell  hors,  and  bare  with  him  grete  plente  of  good  mete  and 
drynke  for  to  gyve  to  the  poure  and  seke  folk  there  as  they  were. 
And  after  she  had  herd  evensonge  she  went  to  her  souper,  yf  she  fasted 
not.  And  tymely  she  wente  to  bedde ;  made  her  styward  to  come  to  her 
to  wete  what  mete  sholde  be  had  the  next  daye,  and  lyved  by  good 
ordenaunce,  and  wold  be  purveyed  byfore  of  alle  such  thynge  that  was 
nedefull  for  her  household.  She  made  grete  abstynence,  and  wered  the 
hayre  *  upon  the  Wednesday  and  upon  the  Fryday And  she  rose 

•  Hair-cloth  garment  worn  next  the  skin  for  mortification. 

156  Consecrated  Widows  of  the  Middle  Ages. 

everye  night  thre  tymes,  and  kneled  downe  to  the  ground  by  her  bedde, 
and  redryd  thankynges  to  God,  and  prayd  for  al  Crysten  soules,  and  dyd 
grete  almes  to  the  poure.     This  good  lady,  that  wel  is  worthy  to  be 

named  and  preysed,  had  to  name  my  lady  Cecyle  of  Ballavylle 

She  was  the  most  good  and  curtoys  lady  that  ever  I  knewe  or  wyste  in 
ony  countrey,  and  that  lesse  was  envious,  and  never  she  wold  here  say  ony 
evyll  of  no  body,  but  excused  them,  and  prayd  to  God  that  they  myght 
amende  them,  and  that  none  was  that  knewe  what  to  hym  shold  happe. 
....  She  had  a  ryhte  noble  ende,  and  as  I  wene  ryht  agreable  to  God ;  and 
as  men  say  commonely,  of  honest  and  good  lyf  cometh  ever  a  good  ende." 
In  post-Reformation  times  there  are  biographies  of  holy  women  which 
show  that  the  idea  of  consecrated  widowhood  was  still  living  in  the  minds 
of  the  people.  Probably  the  dress  commonly  worn  by  widows  throughout 
their  widowhood  is  a  remnant  of  the  mediaeval  custom. 



HE  fashion  of  going  on  pilgrimage  seems  to  have  sprung  up  in  the 
fourth  century.  The  first  object  of  pilgrimage  was  the  Holy 
Land.  Jerome  said,  at  the  outset,  the  most  powerful  thing 
which  can  be  said  against  it ;  viz.,  that  the  way  to  heaven  is  as  short  from 
Britain  as  from  Jerusalem — a  consolatory  reflection  to  those  who  were 
obliged,  or  who  preferred,  to  stay  at  home;  but  it  did  not  succeed  in 
quenching  the  zeal  of  those  many  thousands  who  desired  to  see,  with  their 
own  eyes,  the  places  which  had  been  hallowed  by  the  presence  and  the 
deeds  of  their  Lord — to  tread,  with  their  own  footsteps, 

"  Those  holy  fields 
Over  whose  acres  walked  those  blessed  feet, 
Which  "  eighteen  "  hundred  years  ago  were  nailed 
For  our  advantage  on  the  bitter  cross  ;"• 

to  kneel  down  and  pray  for  pardon  for  their  sins  upon  that  very  spot 
where  the  Great  Sacrifice  for  sin  was  actually  offered  up ;  to  stand  upon 
the  summit  of  Mount  Olivet,  and  gaze  up  into  that  very  pathway  through 
the  sky  by  which  He  ascended  to  His  kingdom  in  Heaven. 
We  should,  however,  open  up  too  wide  a  field  if  we  were  to  enter  into 

•  King  Henry  IV.,  Pt.  I.,  Act  i.  Sc   I. 


The  Pilgrims  of  the  Middle  Ages. 

the  subject  of  the  early  pilgrims  to  the  Holy  Land  ;*  to  trace  their  route 
from  Britain,  usually  via  Rome,  by  sea  and  land;  to  describe  how  a 
pilgrim  passenger-traffic  sprung  up,  of  which  adventurous  ship-owners  took 
advantage  j  how  hospitals!  were  founded  here  and  there  along  the  road,  to 
give  refuge  to  the  weary  pilgrims,  until  they  reached  the  Hospital  par 

Thirteenth  Century  Pilgrims  (the  two  Disciples  at  EmmausJ. 

excellence,   which  stood  beside  the  Church  of  the  Holy  Sepulchre;  how 
Saxon  kings  made  treaties  to  secure  their  safe  conduct  through  foreign 

*  There  have  come  down  to  us  a  series  of  narratives  of  pilgrimages  to  the  Holy  Land. 
One  of  a  Christian  of  Bordeaux  as  early  as  333  a.d.  ;  that  of  S.  Paula  and  her  daughter, 
about  386  a.d.,  given  by  St.  Jerome;  of  Bishop  Arculf,  700  A.D. ;  of  Willebald,  725 
A.D. ;  of  Ssewulf,  1102  A.D. ;  of  Sigurd  the  Crusader,  1107  a.d.  ;  of  Sir  John  de  Man- 
deville,  1322— 1356.—  Early  Travels  in  Palestine  (Bonn's  Antiq.  Lib.). 

t  At  the  present  day,  the  Hospital  of  the  Pellegrini  at  Eome  is  capable  of  enter- 
taining seven  thousand  guests,  women  as  well  as  men ;  to  be  entitled  to  the  hospitality  of 
the  institution,  they  must  have  walked  at  least  sixty  miles,  and  be  provided  with  a  certi- 
ficate from  a  bishop  or  priest  to  the  effect  that  they  are  bona-fide  pilgrims.  (Wild'i 
•*  Last  Winter  in  Rome."    Longmans:  1865.) 

Foreign  Pilgrimages.  159 

countries;*  how  the  Order  of  the  Knights  of  the  Temple  was  founded  to 
escort  the  caravans  of  pilgrims  from  one  to  another  of  the  holy  places,  and 
protect  them  from  marauding  Saracens  and  Arabs;  how  the  Crusades 
were  organised  partly,  no  doubt,  to  stem  the  course  of  Mahommedan 
conquest,  but  ostensibly  to  wrest  the  holy  places  from  the  hands  of  the 
infidel :  this  part  of  the  subject  of  pilgrimage  would  occupy  too  much 
of  our  space  here.  Our  design  is  to  give  a  sketch  of  the  less  known 
portion  of  the  subject,  which  relates  to  the  pilgrimages  which  sprung  up 
in  after-times,  when  the  veneration  for  the  holy  places  had  extended  to  the 
shrines  of  saints ;  and  when,  still  later,  veneration  had  run  wild  into  the 
grossest  superstition,  and  crowds  of  sane  men  and  women  flocked  to  relic- 
worships,  which  would  be  ludicrous  if  they  were  not  so  pitiable  and  humi- 
liating. This  part  of  the  subject  forms  a  chapter  in  the  history  of  the 
manners  of  the  Middle  Ages,  which  is  little  known  to  any  but  the  anti- 
quarian student ;  but  it  is  an  important  chapter  to  all  who  desire  thoroughly 
to  understand  what  were  the  modes  of  thought  and  habits  of  life  of  our 
English  forefathers  in  the  Middle  Ages. 

The  most  usual  foreign  pilgrimages  were  to  the  Holy  Land,  the  scene 
of  our  Lord's  earthly  life ;  to  Rome,  the  centre  of  western  Christianity ; 
and  to  the  shrine  of  St  James  at  Compostella.f 

The  number  of  pilgrims  to  these  places  must  have  been  comparatively 
limited ;  for  a  man  who  had  any  regular  business  or  profession  could  not 

*  In  the  latter  part  of  the  Saxon  period  of  our  history  there  was  a  great  rage  for 
foreign  pilgrimage ;  thousands  of  persons  were  continually  coming  and  going  between 
England  and  the  principal  shrines  of  Europe,  especially  the  threshold  of  the  Apostles  at 
Rome.  They  were  the  subject  of  a  letter  from  Charlemagne  to  King  Offa  : — "  Concerning 
the  strangers  who,  for  the  love  of  God  and  the  salvation  of  their  souls,  wish  to  repair  to 
the  thresholds  of  the  blessed  Apostles,  let  them  travel  in  peace  without  any  trouble." 
Again,  in  the  year  1031  A.D.,  King  Canute  made  a  pilgrimage  to  Rome  (as  other  Saxon 
kings  had  done  before  him)  and  met  the  Emperor  Conrad  and  other  princes,  from  whom 
he  obtained  for  all  his  subjects,  whether  merchants  or  pilgrims,  exemptions  from  the 
heavy  tolls  usually  exacted  on  the  journey  to  Rome. 

t  At  the  marriage  of  our  Edward  I.,  in  1254,  with  Leonora,  sister  of  Alonzo  of 
Castile,  a  protection  to  English  pilgrims  was  stipulated  for ;  but  they  came  in  such 
numbers  as  to  alarm  the  French,  and  difficulties  were  thrown  in  the  way.  In  the  fifteenth 
century,  Rymer  mentions  916  licences  to  make  the  pilgrimage  to  Santiago  granted  in 
1428,  and  2,400  in  1434. 

160  The  Pilgrims  of  the  Middle  Ages, 

well  undertake  so  long  an  absence  from  home.  The  rich  of  no  occupation 
could  afford  the  leisure  and  the  cost ;  and  the  poor  who  chose  to  abandon 
their  lawful  occupation  could  make  these  pilgrimages  at  the  cost  of  others  ; 
for  the  pilgrim  was  sure  of  entertainment  at  every  hospital,  or  monastery, 
or  priory,  probably  at  every  parish  priest's  rectory  and  every  gentleman's 
hall,*  on  his  way;  and  there  were  not  a  few  poor  men  and  women  who 
indulged  a  vagabond  humour  in  a  pilgrim's  life.  The  poor  pilgrim  repaid 
his  entertainer's  hospitality  by  bringing  the  news  of  the  countries!  through 
which  he  had  passed,  and  by  amusing  the  household  after  supper  with 
marvellous  saintly  legends,  and  traveller's  tales.  He  raised  a  little  money 
for  his  inevitable  travelling  expenses  by  retailing  holy  trifles  and  curiosities, 
such  as  were  sold  wholesale  at  all  the  shrines  frequented  by  pilgrims,  and 
which  were  usually  supposed  to  have  some  saintly  efficacy  attached  to 
them.  Sometimes  the  pilgrim  would  take  a  bolder  flight,  and  carry  with 
him  some  fragment  of  a  relic — a  joint  of  a  bone,  or  a  pinch  of  dust,  or  a  nail- 
paring,  or  a  couple  of  hairs  of  the  saint,  or  a  rag  of  his  clothing ;  and  the 
people  gladly  paid  the  pilgrim  for  thus  bringing  to  their  doors  some  of  the 
advantages  of  the  holy  shrines  which  he  had  visited.  Thus  Chaucer's 
Pardoner — "  That  strait  was  comen  from  the  Court  of  Rome  " — 

"  In  hii  mail  J  he  had  a  pilwebere,} 
"Which  as  he  saidfi  was  oure  Lady's  veil ; 

•  King  Horn,  having  taken  the  disguise  of  a  palmer — "  Horn  took  bourden  and  scrip  " 
—went  to  the  palace  of  Athulf  and  into  the  hall,  and  took  his  place  among  the  beggars 
"in  beggar's  row,"  and  sat  on  the  ground. — Thirteenth  Century  Romance  of  King 
Horn  (Early  English  Text  Society).  That  beggars  and  such  persons  did  usually  sit  on 
the  ground  in  the  hall  and  wait  for  a  share  of  the  food,  we  learn  also  from  the  "Vision 
of  Piers  Ploughman,"  xii.  198 — 

"  Right  as  sum  man  gave  me  meat,  and  set  me  amid  the  floor, 
I  have  meat  more  than  enough,  and  not  so  much  worship 
As  they  that  sit  at  side  table,  or  with  the  sovereigns  of  the  hall, 
But  sit  as  a  beggar  boardless  by  myself  on  the  ground." 

f  In  the  romance  of  King  Horn,  the  hero  meets  a  palmer  and  asks  his  news — 
"  A  palmere  he  there  met 
And  fair  him  grette  [greeted]  : 
Palmer,  thou  shalt  me  tell 
All  of  thine  spell." 
J  Wallet.  $  Pillow  covering. 

English  Shrines.  l6l 

He  said  he  had  a  gobbet  of  the  sail 
Thatte  St.  Peter  had  whan  that  he  went 
Upon  the  sea,  till  Jesu  Christ  him  hent.* 
He  had  a  cross  of  laton  full  of  stones  ;t 
And  in  a  glass  he  hadde"  pigges  bones.  J 
But  with  these  relics  whann6  that  he  fond 
A  poure  parson  dwelling  upon  lond, 
Upon  a  day  he  gat  him  more  monie 
Than  that  the  parson  gat  in  monthes  tweie. 
And  thus  with  feined  flattering  and  japes, 
He  made  the  parson  and  the  people  his  apes." 

In  a  subsequent  chapter,  on  the  Merchants  of  the  Middle  Ages,  will  be 
found  some  illustrations  of  mediaeval  shipping,  which  also  illustrate  the 
present  subject.  One  is  a  representation  of  Sir  John  Mandeville  and  his 
companions  in  mantle,  hat,  and  staff,  just  landed  at  a  foreign  town  on 
their  pilgrimage  to  the  Holy  Land.  Another  represents  Richard  Beau- 
champ,  Earl  of  Warwick,  in  mantle,  hat,  and  staff,  embarking  in  his  own 
ship  on  his  departure  for  a  similar  pilgrimage.  Another  illustration  in  the 
subsequent  chapter  on  Secular  Clergy  represents  Earl  Richard  at  Rome, 
being  presented  to  the  Pope. 

But  those  who  could  not  spare  time  or  money  to  go  to  Jerusalem,  or 
Rome,  or  Compostella,  could  spare  both  for  a  shorter  expedition;  and 
pilgrimages  to  English  shrines  appear  to  have  been  very  common.  By  far 
the  most  popular  of  our  English  pilgrimages  was  to  the  shrine  of  St. 
Thomas-a-Becket,  at  Canterbury,  and  it  was  popular  not  only  in  England, 
but  all  over  Europe.  The  one  which  stood  next  in  popular  estimation, 
was  the  pilgrimage  to  Our  Lady  of  Walsingham.  But  nearly  every  cathe- 
dral and  great  monastery,  and  many  a  parish  church  besides,  had  its 
famous  saint  to  whom  the  people  resorted.  There  was  St  Cuthbert  at 
Durham,  and  St.  William  at  York,  and  little  St  William  at  Norwich,  and 
St.  Hugh  at  Lincoln,  and  St.  Edward  Confessor  at  Westminster,  and  St 
Erkenwald  in  the  cathedral  of  London,  and  St.  Wulstan  at  Worcester,  and 
St.  Swithin  at  Winchester,  and  St.  Edmund  at  Bury,  and  SS.  Etheldreda 

*  Called  or  took. 

t  i.e.  Latten  (a  kind  of  bronze)  set  with  (mock)  precious  stones. 

\  Pretending  them  to  be  relics  of  some  saint. 

162  The  Pilgrims  of  the  Middle  Ages, 

and  Withburga  at  Ely,  and  many  more,  whose  remains  were  esteemed  holy 
relics,  and  whose  shrines  were  frequented  by  the  devout.  Some  came  to 
pray  at  the  tomb  for  the  intercession  of  the  saint  in  their  behalf;  or  to 
seek  the  cure  of  disease  by  the  touch  of  the  relic ;  or  to  offer  up  thanks 
for  deliverance  believed  to  have  been  vouchsafed  in  time  of  peril  through 
the  saint's  prayers;  or  to  obtain  the  number  of  days'  pardon — i.e.  of 
remission  of  their  time  in  purgatory — offered  by  Papal  bulls  to  those  who 
should  pray  at  the  tomb.  Then  there  were  famous  roods,  the  Rood  of 
Chester  and  of  Bromholme ;  and  statues  of  the  Virgin,  as  Our  Lady  of 
Wilsden,  and  of  Boxley,  and  of  this,  that,  and  the  other  place.  There 
were  scores  of  holy  wells  besides,  under  saintly  invocations,  of  which  St. 
Winifred's  well  with  her  chapel  over  it  still  remains  an  excellent  example,* 
Some  of  these  were  springs  of  medicinal  water,  and  were  doubtless  of 
some  efficacy  in  the  cures  for  which  they  were  noted ;  in  others  a  saint 
had  baptized  his  converts ;  others  had  simply  afforded  water  to  a  saint  in 
his  neighbouring  cell.t 

Before  any  man  J  went  on  pilgrimage,  he  first  went  to  his  church,  and 
received  the  Church's  blessing  on  his  pious  enterprise,  and  her  prayers  for 
his  good  success  and  safe  return.  The  office  of  pilgrims  {pfficium  peregri- 
norum)  may  be  found  in  the  old  service-books.  We  give  a  few  notes  of  it 
from  a  Sarum  missal,  date  1554,  in  the  British  Museum.  §     The  pilgrim  is 

*  See  "  Archaeological  Journal,"  vol.  iii.  p.  149. 

f  Mr.  Taylor,  in  his  edition  of  "  Blomfield's  Norfolk,"  enumerates  no  less  than  seventy 
places  of  pilgrimage  in  Norfolk  alone. 

\  A  man  might  not  go  without  his  wife's  consent,  nor  a  wife  without  her  husband's : — 

"  To  preche  them  also  thou  might  not  wonde  [fear,  hesitate], 
Both  to  wyf  and  eke  husbande, 
That  nowther  of  hem  no  penance  take, 
Ny  non  a  vow  to  chastity  make, 
Ny  no  pylgrimage  take  to  do 
But  if  bothe  assente  thereto. 
»  *  *  *  • 

Save  the  vow  to  Jherusalem, 
That  is  lawful  to  ether  of  them." 

Instructions  for  Parish  Priests.     (Early 
English  Text  Society.) 
\  Marked  3,395  d.  4to.     The  footnote  on  a  previous  page  (p.  158)  leads  us  to  conjecture 

Office  Jor  Blessing  Pilgrims. 


previously  to  have  confessed.  At  the  opening  of  the  service  he  lies  pros- 
trate before  the  altar,  while  the  priest  and  choir  sing  over  him  certain 
appropriate  psalms,  viz.  the  24th,  50th,  and  90th.  Then  follow  some 
versicles,  and  three  collects,  for  safety,  &c,  in  which  the  pilgrim  is  men- 
tioned by  name,  "thy  servant,  N."  Then  he  rises,  and  there  follows  the 
benediction  of  his  scrip  and  staff;  and  the  priest  sprinkles  the  scrip  with 
holy  water,  and  places  it  on  the  neck  of  the  pilgrim,  saying,  "  In  the  name 
of.  &c.,  take  this  scrip,  the  habit  of  your  pilgrimage,  that,  corrected  and 
saved,  you  may  be  worthy  to  reach  the  thresholds  of  the  saints  to  which 
you  desire  to  go,  and,  your  journey  done, 
may  return  to  us  in  safety."  Then  the  priest 
delivers  the  staff,  saying,  "  Take  this  staff, 
the  support  of  your  journey,  and  of  the 
labour  of  your  pilgrimage,  that  you  may  be 
able  to  conquer  all  the  bands  of  the  enemy, 
and  to  come  safely  to  the  threshold  of  the 
saints  to  which  you  desire  to  go,  and,  your 
journey  obediently  performed,  return  to  us 
with  joy."  If  any  one  of  the  pilgrims  pre- 
sent is  going  to  Jerusalem,  he  is  to  bring 
a  habit  signed  with  the  cross,  and  the  priest 
blesses  it: — ".  ...  we  pray  that  Thou 
wilt  vouchsafe  to  bless  this  cross,  that  the 
banner  of  the  sacred  cross,  whose  figure  is 
signed  upon  him,  may  be  to  Thy  servant 
an  invincible  strength  against  the  evil 
temptations  of  the  old  enemy,  a  defence  by  the  way,  a  protection  in 
Thy  house,  and  may  be  to  us  everywhere  a  guard,  through  our  Lord, 
&c"  Then  he  sprinkles  the  habit  with  holy  water,  and  gives  it  to  the 
pilgrim,  saying,  "  Take  this  habit,  signed  with  the  cross  of  the  Lord  our 
Saviour,  that  by  it  you  may  come  safely  to  his  sepulchre,  who,  with  the 

that  in  ancient  as  in  modern  times  the  pilgrim  may  have  received  a  certificate  of  his  having 
been  blessed  as  a  pilgrim,  as  now  we  give  certificates  of  baptism,  marriage,  and  holy 

Lydgatfs  Pilgrim. 

164  The  Pilgrims  of  the  Middle  Ages. 

Father,"  &c  Then  follows  mass ;  and  after  mass,  certain  prayers  over 
the  pilgrims,  prostrate  at  the  altar;  then,  "let  them  communicate,  and 
so  depart  in  the  name  of  the  Lord."  The  service  runs  in  the  plural,  as 
if  there  were  usually  a  number  of  pilgrims  to  be  dispatched  together. 

There  was  a  certain  costume  appropriate  to  the  pilgrim,  which  old 
writers  speak  of  under  the  title  of  pilgrims'  weeds ;  the  illustrations  of 
this  paper  will  give  examples  of  it.  It  consisted  of  a  robe  and  hat,  a 
staff  and  scrip.  The  robe  called  sclavina  by  Du  Cange,  and  other  writers, 
is  said  to  have  been  always  of  wool,  and  sometimes  of  shaggy  stuff, 
like  that  represented  in  the  accompanying  woodcut  of  the  latter  part 
of  the  fourteenth  century,  from  the  Harleian  MS.,  4,826.  It  seems 
intended  to  represent  St.  John  Baptist's  robe  of  camel's  hair.  Its  colour 
does  not  appear  in  the  illuminations,  but  old  writers  speak  of  it  as  grey. 
The  hat  seems  to  be  commonly  a  round  hat,  of  felt,  and,  apparently,  does 
not  differ  from  the  hats  which  travellers  not  uncommonly  wore  over  their 
hoods  in  those  days.* 

The  pilgrim  who  was  sent  on  pilgrimage  as  a  penance  seems  usually  to 
have  been  ordered  to  go  barefoot,  and  probably  many  others  voluntarily 
inflicted  this  hardship  upon  themselves  in  order  to  heighten  the  merit  and 
efficacy  of  their  good  deed.  They  often  also  made  a  vow  not  to  cut 
the  hair  or  beard  until  the  pilgrimage  had  been  accomplished.  But  the 
special  insignia  of  a  pilgrim  were  the  staff  and  scrip.  In  the  religious 
service  with  which  the  pilgrims  initiated  their  journey,  we  have  seen  that 
the  staff  and  scrip  are  the  only  insignia  mentioned,  except  in  the  case 
of  one  going  to  the  Holy  Land,  who  has  a  robe  signed  with  the  cross ; 
the  staff  and  the  scrip  were  specially  blessed  by  the  priest,  and  the  pilgrim 
formally  invested  with  them  by  his  hands. 

The  staff,  or  bourdon,  was  not  of  an  invariable  shape.  On  a  fourteenth- 
century  grave-stone  at  Haltwhistle,  Northumberland,  it  is  like  a  rather  long 
walking-stick,  with  a  natural  knob  at  the  top.  In  the  cut  from  Erasmus's 
"  Praise  of  Folly,"  which  forms  the  frontispiece  of  Mr.  Nichols's  "  Pil- 
grimages of  Canterbury  and  Walsingham,"  it  is  a  similar  walking-stick; 

•  See  woodcut  on  p.  90. 

The  Scrip  and  Staff. 


but,  usually,  it  was  a  long  staff,  some  five,  six,  or  seven  feet  long,  turned  in 
the  lathe,  with  a  knob  at  the  top,  and  another  about  a  foot  lower  down. 
Sometimes  a  little  below  the  lower  knob  there  is  a  hook,  or  a  staple,  to 
which  we  occasionally  find  a  water-bottle  or  a  small  bundle  attached.  The 
hook  is  seen  on  the  staff  of  Lydgate's  pilgrim  (p.  163).  Sir  John  Hawkins 
tells  us  *  that  the  staff  was  sometimes  hollowed  out  into  a  kind  of  flute, 
on  which  the  pilgrim  could  play.  The  same  kind  of  staff  we  find 
in  illuminated  MSS.  in  the  hands  of  beggars  and  shepherds,  as  well  as 

The  scrip  was  a  small  bag,  slung  at  the  side  by  a  cord  over  the  shoulder, 
to  contain  the  pilgrim's  food  and  his  few  necessaries.t  Sometimes  it  was 
made  of  leather;  but  probably  the  mate- 
rial varied  according  to  the  taste  and 
wealth  of  the  pilgrim.  We  find  it  of  dif- 
ferent shape  and  size  in  different  examples. 
In  the  monumental  effigy  of  a  pilgrim  of 
rank  at  Ashby-de-la-Zouch,  the  scrip  is 
rather  long,  widest  at  bottom,  and  is  orna- 
mented with  three  tassels  at  the  bottom, 
something  like  the  bag  in  which  the  Lord 
Chancellor  carries  the  great  seal,  and  it 
has  scallop  shells  fixed  upon  its  front. 
In  the  grave-stone  of  a  knight  at  Halt- 
whistle,  already  alluded  to,  the  knight's 
arms,  sculptured  upon  the  shield  on  one 
side  of  his  grave  cross,  are  a  fess  be- 
tween three  garbs  (i.e.  wheat-sheaves) ; 
and  a  garb  is  represented  upon  his  scrip,  which  is  square  and  otherwise 
plain.  The  tomb  of  Abbot  Chillenham,  at  Tewkesbury,  has  the  pilgrim's 
staff  and  scrip  sculptured  upon  it  as  an  architectural  ornament ;  the  scrip  is 


Pilgrim,  from  Erasmus's  "  Praise 
of  Folly." 

*  "History  of  Music." 

f  "'  Conscience  then  with  Patience  passed,  Pilgrims  as  it  were, 
Then  had  Patience,  as  pilgrims  have,  in  his  poke  vittailes." 

Piers  Ploughman's  Vision,  xiii.  215. 

1 66  The  Pilgrims  of  the  Middle  Ages. 

like  the  mediaeval  purse,  with  a  scallop  shell  on  the  front  of  it,  very  like 
that  on  p.  163.*  The  pilgrim  is  sometimes  represented  with  a  bottle, 
often  with  a  rosary,  and  sometimes  with  other  conveniences  for  travelling 
or  helps  to  devotion.  There  is  a  very  good  example  in  Hans  Burgmaier's 
"  Images  de  Saints,  &c,  of  the  Familly  of  the  Emp.  Maximilian  I."  fol.  112. 
But  though  the  conventional  pilgrim  is  always  represented  with  robe, 
and  hat,  and  staff,  and  scrip,  the  actual  pilgrim  seems  sometimes  to  have 
dispensed  with  some,  if  not  with  all,  of  these  insignia.  For  example, 
Chaucer  minutely  describes  the  costume  of  the  principal  personages  in  his 
company  of  Canterbury  Pilgrims,  and  he  not  only  does  not  describe  what 
would  have  been  so  marked  and  picturesque  features  in  their  appearance, 
but  his  description  seems  to  preclude  the  pilgrim's  robe  and  hat.  His 
knight  is  described  in  the  ordinary  jupon, 

"  Of  fustian  he  wered  a  jupon." 
And  the  squire — 

"  Short  was  his  gowne  with  sieves  long  and  wide." 
And  the  yeoman— 

"  Was  clad  in  cote  and  hood  of  green." 

And  the  serjeant  of  the  law — 

"  Rode  but  homely  in  a  medlee  cote, 
Girt  with  a  seint  f  of  silk  with  baires  small." 

The  merchant  was  in  motley — 

"And  on  his  hed  a  Flaundrish  bever  hat." 

And  so  with  all  the  rest,  they  are  clearly  described  in  the  ordinary  dress 

of  their  class,  which  the  pilgrim's  robe  would  have  concealed.     It  seems 

very  doubtful  whether  they  even  bore  the  especial  insignia  of  staff  and 

scrip.     Perhaps  when  men  and  women  went  their  pilgrimage  on  horseback, 

they  did  not  go  through  the  mere  form  of  carrying  a  long  walking-staff. 

The  equestrian   pilgrim,  of  whom   we   shall   give   a  woodcut   hereafter, 

though  he  is  very  correctly  habited  in   robe  and  hat,  with  pilgrim  signs 

on  each,  and  his  rosary  round   his  neck,  does   not   carry  the   bourdon. 

The  only  trace  of  pilgrim  costume  about  Chaucer's  Pilgrims,  is   in   the 

Pardoner — 

*  Grose's  "  Gloucestershire,"  pi.  lvii.  f  Girdle. 

Pilgrim  Signs,  167 

"  A  vernicle  hadde  he  sewed  in  his  cappe  " — 
but  that  was  a  sign  of  a  former  pilgrimage  to  Rome ;  and  it  is  enough  to 
prove — if  proof  were  needed — that  Chaucer  did  not  forget  to  clothe  his 
personages  in  pilgrim  weeds,  but  that  they  did  not  wear  them. 

But  besides  the  ordinary  insignia  of  pilgrimage,  every  pilgrimage  had  its 
special  signs,  which  the  pilgrim  on  his  return  wore  conspicuously  upon  his 
hat  or  his  scrip,  or  hanging  round  his  neck,  in  token  that  he  had  accom- 
plished that  particular  pilgrimage.  The  pilgrim  who  had  made  a  long 
pilgrimage,  paying  his  devotions  at  every  shrine  in  his  way,  might  come 
back  as  thickly  decorated  with  signs  as  a  modem  soldier,  who  has  been 
through  a  stirring  campaign,  with  medals  and  clasps. 

The  pilgrim  to  the  Holy  Land  had  this  distinction  above  all  others, 
that  he  wore  a  special  sign  from  the  very  hour  that  he  took  the  vow  upon 
him  to  make  that  most  honourable  pilgrimage.  This  sign  was  a  cross, 
formed  of  two  strips  of  coloured  cloth  sewn  upon  the  shoulder  of  the 
robe ;  the  English  pilgrim  wore  the  cross  of  white,  the  French  of  red,  the 
Flemish  of  green.  Some,  in  their  fierce  earnestness,  had  the  sacred  sign 
cut  into  their  flesh  ;  in  the  romance  of  "  Sir  Isumbras,"  we  read — 

**  With  a  sharpe  knyfe  he  share 
A  cross  upon  his  shoulder  bare." 

Others  had  it  branded  upon  them  with  a  hot  iron ;  one  pilgrim  in  the 
*  Mirac.  de  S.  Thomse  "  of  Abbot  Benedict  gives  the  obvious  reason,  that 
though  his  clothes  should  be  torn  away,  no  one  should  be  able  to  tear 
the  cross  from  his  breast.  At  the  end  of  the  Officium  peregrinorum, 
which  we  have  described,  we  find  a  rubric  calling  attention  to  the  fact, 
that  burning  the  cross  in  the  flesh  is  forbidden  by  the  canon  law  on  pain 
of  the  greater  excommunication ;  the  prohibition  is  proof  enough  that  at 
one  time  it  was  a  not  uncommon  practice.  But  when  the  pilgrim  reached 
the  Holy  Land,  and  had  visited  the  usual  round  of  the  holy  places,  he 
became  entitled  to  wear  the  palm  in  token  of  his  accomplishment  of  that 
great  pilgrimage ;  and  from  this  badge  he  derived  the  name  of  Palmer. 
How  the  palm  was  borne  does  not  quite  certainly  appear ;  some  say  that  it 
was  a  branch  of  palm,  which  the  returning  pilgrim  bore  in  his  hand  or  affixed 

1 68  The  Pilgrims  of  the  Middle  Ages, 

to  the  top  of  his  staff;*  but  probably  in  the  general  case  it  was  in  the 
shape  of  sprigs  of  palm  sewn  crosswise  upon  the  hat  and  scrip. 

The  Roman  pilgrimage  seems  always  to  have  ranked  next  in  popular 
estimation  to  that  of  the  Holy  Land ;  f  and  with  reason,  for  Rome  was  then 
the  great  centre  of  the  religion  and  the  civilization  of  Western  Christ- 
endom. The  plenary  indulgence  which  Boniface  VIII.  published  in  1300, 
to  all  who  should  make  the  Jubilee  pilgrimage  to  Rome,  no  doubt  had  its 
effect  in  popularizing  this  pilgrimage  ad  limina  apostolorum.  Two  hundred 
thousand  pilgrims,  it  is  said,  visited  Rome  in  one  month  during  the  first 
Jubilee ;  and  succeeding  popes  shortened  the  interval  between  these  great 
spiritual  fairs,  first  to  fifty,  then  to  thirty-three,  and  lastly  to  twenty-five 
years.  The  pilgrim  to  Rome  doubtless  visited  many  shrines  in  that  great 
Christian  capital,  and  was  entitled  to  wear  as  many  signs  ;  but  the  chief 
signs  of  the  Roman  pilgrimage  were  a  badge  with  the  effigies  of  St.  Peter 
and  St.  Paul,  the  cross-keys,  and  the  vernicle.  Concerning  the  first, 
there  is  a  grant  from  Innocent  III.  to  the  arch-priest  and  canons  of  St. 
Peter's  at  Rome,  J  which  confirms  to  them  (or  to  those  to  whom  they  shall 
concede  it)  the  right  to  cast  and  to  sell  the  lead  or  pewter  signs,  bearing 
the  effigies  of  the  Apostles  Peter  and  Paul,  with  which  those  who  have 
visited  their  threshold  decorate  themselves  for  the  increase  of  their  devo- 
tion and  a  testimony  of  their  pilgrimage.  Dr.  Rock  says§  "that  a  friend 
of  his  has  one  of  these  Roman  pilgrim  signs,  which  was  dug  up  at  Launde 
Abbey,  Leicestershire.  It  is  of  copper,  in  the  shape  of  a  quatrefoil,  one 
and  three-quarter  inches  in  diameter,  and  has  the  cross-keys  on  one  side, 
the  other  side  being  plain.  An  equestrian  pilgrim  represented  in  Hans 
Burgmaier's  "  Der  Weise  Kcenige,"  seems  to  bear  on  his  cloak  and  his  hat 
the  cross-keys.     The  vernicle  was  the  kerchief  of  Veronica,  with  which, 

*  One  of  the  two  pilgrims  in  our  first  cut,  p.  158,  carries  a  palm  branch  in  his  hand ; 
they  represent  the  two  disciples  at  Emmaus,  who  were  returning  from  Jerusalem. 

t  The  existence  of  several  accounts  of  the  stations  of  Rome  in  English  prose 
and  poetry  as  early  as  the  thirteenth  century  (published  by  the  Early  English  Text 
Society),  indicates  the  popularity  of  this  pilgrimage. 

J  Innocente  III.,  Epist.  536,  lib.  i.,  t.  c,  p.  305,  ed.  Baluzio.  (Dr.  Rock's  "  Churcb 
of  our  Fathers.") 

§  "Church  of  our  Fathers,"  vol.  iii.  p.  438,  note. 

Pilgrim  Signs.  169 

said  a  very  popular  legend,  she  wiped  the  brow  of  the  Saviour,  when  he 
fainted  under  His  cross  in  the  Via  Dolorosa,  and  which  was  found  to  have 
had  miraculously  transferred  to  it  an  imprint  of  the  sacred  countenance. 
Chaucer's  Pardoner,  as  we  have  already  seen — 

"  Strait  was  comen  from  the  Court  of  Rome," 
and,  therefore, 

■  A  vemicle  had  he  sewed  upon  his  cap." 

The  sign  of  the  Compostella  pilgrimage  was  the  scallop  shell.*  The 
legend  which  the  old  Spanish  writers  give  in  explanation  of  the  badge  is 
this  : — When  the  body  of  the  saint  was  being  miraculously  conveyed  in  a 
ship  without  sails  or  oars,  from  Joppa  to  Galicia,  it  passed  the  village  of 
Bonzas,  on  the  coast  of  Portugal,  on  the  day  that  a  marriage  had  been 
celebrated  there.  The  bridegroom  with  his  friends  were  amusing  them- 
selves on  horseback  on  the  sands,  when  his  horse  became  unmanageable 
and  plunged  into  the  sea ;  whereupon  the  miraculous  ship  stopped  in  its 
voyage,  and  presently  the  bridegroom  emerged,  horse  and  man,  close 
beside  it.  A  conversation  ensued  between  the  knight  and  the  saint's 
disciples  on  board,  in  which  they  apprised  him  that  it  was  the  saint  who 
had  saved  him  from  a  watery  grave,  and  explained  the  Christian  religion  to 
him.  He  believed,  and  was  baptized  there  and  then.  And  immediately 
the  ship  resumed  its  voyage,  and  the  knight  came  galloping  back  over  the 
sea  to  rejoin  his  astonished  friends.  He  told  them  all  that  had  happened, 
and  they  too  were  converted,  and  the  knight  baptized  his  bride  with  his 
own  hand.  Now,  when  the  knight  emerged  from  the  sea,  both  his  dress 
and  the  trappings  of  his  horse  were  covered  with  scallop  shells;  and, 
therefore,  the  Galicians  took  the  scallop  shell  as  the  sign  of  St  James. 
The  legend  is  found  represented  in  churches  dedicated  to  St.  James,  and 
in  ancient  illuminated  MSS.t  The  scallop  shell  is  not  unfrequently  found 
in  armorial  bearings.     It  is  hardly  probable  that  it  would  be  given  to  a 

•  It  is  seen  on  the  scrip  of  Lydgate's  Pilgrim  in  the  woodcut  on  p.  163.  See  a  paper 
on  the  Pilgrim's  Shell,  by  Mr.  J.  E.  Tennant,  in  the  St.  James's  Magazine,  No.  10, 
for  Jan.,  1862. 

f  "  Anales  de  Galicia,"  vol.  i.  p.  95.     S^uthey's  "Pilgrim  to  Compostella." 

170  The  Pilgrims  of  the  Middle  Ages, 

man  merely  because  he  had  made  the  common  pilgrimage  to  Compostella ; 
perhaps  it  was  earned  by  service  under  the  banner  of  Santiago,  against  the 
Moors  in  the  Spanish  crusades.  The  Popes  Alexander  III.,  Gregory  IX., 
and  Clement  V.,  granted  a  faculty  to  the  Archbishops  of  Compostella,  to 
excommunicate  those  who  sell  these  shells  to  pilgrims  anywhere  except  in 
the  city  of  Santiago,  and  they  assign  this  reason,  because  the  shells  are 
the  badge  of  the  Apostle  Santiago.*  The  badge  was  not  always  an  actual 
shell,  but  sometimes  a  jewel  made  in  the  shape  of  a  scallop,  shell.  In  the 
"Journal  of  the  Archaeological  Association,"  iii.  126,  is  a  woodcut  of  a 
scallop  shell  of  silver  gilt,  with  a  circular  piece  of  jet  set  in  the  middle,  on 
which  is  carved  an  equestrian  figure  of  Santiago. 

The  chief  sign  of  the  Canterbury  pilgrimage  was  an  ampul  [ampulla,  a 
flask) ;  we  are  told  all  about  its  origin  and  meaning  by  Abbot  Benedict, 
who  wrote  a  book  on  the  miracles  of  St.  Thomas.f  The  monks  had 
carefully  collected  from  the  pavement  the  blood  of  the  martyr  which  had 
been  shed  upon  it,  and  preserved  it  as  one  of  the  precious  relics.  A  sick 
lady  who  visited  the  shrine,  begged  for  a  drop  of  this  blood  as  a  medicine ; 
it  worked  a  miraculous  cure,  and  the  fame  of  the  miracle  spread  far  and 
wide,  and  future  pilgrims  were  not  satisfied  unless  they  too  might  be  per- 
mitted the  same  high  privilege.  A  drop  of  it  used  to  be  mixed  with  a 
chalice  full  of  water,  that  the  colour  and  flavour  might  not  offend  the 
senses,  and  they  were  allowed  to  taste  of  it.  It  wrought,  says  the  abbot, 
miraculous  cures ;  and  so,  not  only  vast  crowds  came  to  take  this  strange 
and  unheard-of  medicine,  but  those  who  came  were  anxious  to  take  some 
of  it  home  for  their  sick  friends  and  neighbours.  At  first  they  put  it  into 
wooden  vessels,  but  these  were  split  by  the  liquid ;  and  many  of  the  frag- 
ments of  these  vessels  were  hung  up  about  the  martyr's  tomb  in  token  of 
this  wonder.  At  last  it  came  into  the  head  of  a  certain  young  man  to  cast 
little  flasks — ampulla. — of  lead  and  pewter.  And  then  the  miracle  of  the 
breaking  ceased,  and  they  knew  that  it  was  the  Divine  will  that  the  Canter- 
bury medicine  should  be  carried  in  these  ampullae  throughout  the  world, 

•  "  Anales  de  Galicia,"  vol.  i.  p.  96,  quoted  by  Southey,  "  Pilgrim  to  Compostella." 
t  Dr.  Rock's  "Church  of  our  Fathers,"  iii.  424. 

Pilgrim  Signs. 


and  that  these  ampullae  should  be  recognised  by  all  the  world  as  the  sign 
of  this  pilgrimage  and  these  wonderful  cures.  At  first  the  pilgrims  had 
carried  the  wooden  vases  concealed  under  their  clothes  ;  but  these  ampullae 
r-ere  carried  suspended  round  the  neck ;  and  when  the  pilgrims  reached 
lome,  says  another  authority,*  they  hung  these  ampullae  in  their  churches 
for  sacred  relics,  that  the  glory  of  the  blessed  martyr  might  be  known 
roughout  the  world.  Some  of  these  curious  relics  still  exist.  They  are 
flat  on  one  side,  and  slightly  rounded  on  the  other,  with  two  little 

The  Canterbury  Ampulla. 

or  loops  through  which  a  cord  might  be  passed  to  suspend  them, 
le  mouth  might  have  been  closed  by  solder,  or  even  by  folding  over  the 
edges  of  the  metal.  There  is  a  little  flask  figured  in  Gardner's  "  History 
of  Dunwich,"  pi.  iii.,  which  has  a  T  upon  the  side  of  it,  and  which  may 
very  probably  have  been  one  of  these  ampullae.  But  one  of  a  much  more 
elaborate  and  interesting  type  is  here  engraved,  from  an  example  preserved 
in  the  museum  at  York.     The  principal  figure  is  a  somewhat  stem  repre- 

1  Vita  S.  Thomae  apud  Willebald,"  folio  Stephani,  ed.  Giles,  i.  312. 

172  The  Pilgrims  of  the  Middle  Ages. 

sentation  of  the  blessed  archbishop ;  above  is  a  rude  representation  of  his 
shrine ;  and  round  the  margin  is  the  rhyming  legend — "  Optimus  egrorum  : 
Medieus  fit  Thoma  bonorum  "  ("  Thomas  is  the  best  physician  for  the  pious 
sick ").  On  the  reverse  of  the  ampul  is  a  design  whose  intention  is  not 
very  clear ;  two  monks  or  priests  are  apparently  saying  some  service  out  of 
a  book,  and  one  of  them  is  laying  down  a  pastoral  staff;  perhaps  it  repre- 
sents the  shrine  with  its  attendants.  From  the  style  of  art,  this  design 
may  be  of  the  early  part  of  the  thirteenth  century.  But  though  this 
ampul  is  clearly  designated  by  the  monkish  writers,  whom  we  have  quoted, 
as  the  special  sign  of  the  Canterbury  pilgrimage,  there  was  another  sign 
which  seems  to  have  been  peculiar  to  it,  and  that  is  a  bell.  Whether  these 
bells  were  hand-bells,  which  the  pilgrims  carried  in  their  hands,  and  rang 
from  time  to  time,  or  whether  they  were  little  bells,  like  hawks'  bells, 
fastened  to  their  dress — as  such  bells  sometimes  were  to  a  canon's  cope — 
does  not  certainly  appear.  W.  Thorpe,  in  the  passage  hereafter  quoted  at 
length  from  Fox,  speaks  of  "  the  noise  of  their  singing  and  the  sound  of 
their  piping,  and  the  jangling  of  their  Canterbury  bells,"  as  a  body  of 
pilgrims  passed  through  a  town.  One  of  the  prettiest  of  our  wild-flowers, 
the  Campanula  rotundifolia,  which  has  clusters  of  blue,  bell-like  flowers, 
has  obtained  the  common  name  of  Canterbury  Bells.*  There  were  other 
religious  trinkets  also  sold  and  used  by  pilgrims  as  mementoes  of  their 
visit  to  the  famous  shrine.  The  most  common  of  them  seems  to  have 
been  the  head  of  St.  Thomas,f  cast  in  various  ornamental  devices,  in 
silver  or  pewter  j  sometimes  it  was  adapted  to  hang  to  a  rosary,|  more 
usually,  in  the  examples  which  remain  to  us,  it  was  made  into  a  brooch  to 
be  fastened  upon  the  cap  or  hood,  or  dress.  In  Mr.  C.  R.  Smith's 
"Collectanea  Antiqua,"  vol.  i.  pi.  3T,  32,  33,  and  vol.  ii.  pi.  16,  17,  18, 
there   are  representations  of  no  less  than  fifty-one  English  and  foreign 

*  The  lily  of  the  valley  was  another  Canterbury  flower.  It  is  still  plentiful  in  the 
gardens  in  the  precincts  of  the  cathedral. 

f  The  veneration  of  the  times  was  concentrated  upon  the  blessed  head  which  suffered 
the  stroke  of  martyrdom  ;  it  was  exhibited  at  the  shrine  and  kissed  by  the  pilgrims  ;  there 
was  an  abbey  in  Derbyshire  dedicated  to  the  Beauchef  (beautiful  head),  and  still  called 
Beauchief  Abbey. 

J  The  late  T.  Caldecot,  Esq.,  of  Dartford,  possessed  one  of  these. 

Pilgrim  Signs.  173 

pilgrims'   signs,   of   which   a   considerable   proportion   are    heads  of   St. 
Thomas.     The  whole  collection  is  very  curious  and  interesting.* 

The  ampul  was  not  confined  to  St.  Thomas  of  Canterbury.  When  his 
ampuls  became  so  very  popular,  the  guardians  of  the  other  famous  shrines 
adopted  it,  and  manufactured  "  waters,"  "  aquae  reliquiarum,"  of  their  own. 
The  relic  of  the  saint,  which  they  were  so  fortunate  as  to  possess,  was 
washed  with  or  dipped  in  holy  water,  which  was  thereupon  supposed  to 
possess — diluted — the  virtues  of  the  relic  itself.  Thus  there  was  a  "  Dur- 
ham water,"  being  the  water  in  which  the  incorruptible  body  of  St.  Cuth- 
bert  had  been  washed  at  its  last  exposure ;  and  Reginald  of  Durham,  in 
his  book  on  the  admirable  virtues  of  the  blessed  Cuthbert,f  tells  us  how  it 
used  to  be  carried  away  in  ampuls,  and  mentions  a  special  example  in 
which  a  little  of  this  pleasant  medicine  poured  into  the  mouth  of  a  sick 
man,  cured  him  on  the  spot.  The  same  old  writer  tells  us  how  the 
water  held  in  a  bowl  that  once  belonged  to  Editha,  queen  and  saint,  in 
which  a  little  bit  of  rag,  which  had  once  formed  part  of  St.  Cuthbert's 
garments,  was  soaked,  acquired  from  these  two  relics  so  much  virtue 
that  it  brought  back  health  and  strength  to  a  dying  clerk  who  drank  it 
In  Gardner's  "  History  of  Dunwich  "  (pi.  Hi.)  we  find  drawings  of  ampullae 
like  those  of  St.  Thomas,  one  of  which  has  upon  its  front  a  W  surmounted 
by  a  crown,  which  it  is  conjectured  may  be  the  pilgrim  sign  of  Our  Lady 
of  Walsingham,  and  contained,  perhaps,  water  from  the  holy  wells  at  Wal- 
singham,  hereinafter  described.  Another  has  an  R  surmounted  by  one  of 
the  symbols  of  the  Blessed  Virgin,  a  lily  in  a  pot ;  the  author  hazards  a 
conjecture  that  it  may  be  the  sign  of  St.  Richard  of  Chichester.  The 
pilgrim  who  brought  away  one  of  these  flasks  of  medicine,  or  one  of  these 
blessed  relics,  we  may  suppose,  did  not  always  hang  it  up  in  church  as  an 
ex  voto,  but  sometimes  preserved  it  carefully  in  his  house  for  use  in  time 
of  sickness,  and  would  often  be  applied  to  by  a  sick  neighbour  for  the  gift 
of  a  portion  of  the  precious  fluid  out  of  his  ampul,  or  for  a  touch  of  the 
trinket  which  had  touched  the  saint.     In  the  "  Collectanea  Antiqua,"  is  a 

*  A  very  beautiful  little  pilgrim  sign  of  lead  found  at  Winchester  is  engraved  in  the 
"  Journal  of  the  British  Archaeological  Association,"  No.  32,  p.  363. 
t  Dr.  Rock's  "  Church  of  our  Fathers,"  yoL  iii.  p.  430. 

1 74  The  Pilgrims  of  the  Middle  Ages, 

facsimile  of  a  piece  of  paper  bearing  a  rude  woodcut  of  the  adoration 
of  the  Magi,  and  an  inscription  setting  forth  that  "  Ces  billets  ont  touche* 
aux  troi  testes  de  saints  Rois  a  Cologne :  ils  sont  pour  les  voyageurs 
contre  les  malheurs  des  chemins,  maux  de  teste,  mal  caduque,  fieures, 
sorcellerie,  toute  sorte  de  malefice,  et  morte  soubite."  It  was  found  upon 
the  person  of  one  William  Jackson,  who  having  been  sentenced  for  murder 
in  June,  1748-9,  was  found  dead  in  prison  a  few  hours  before  the  time  of 
his  execution.  It  was  the  charmed  billet,  doubtless,  which  preserved  him 
from  the  more  ignominious  death. 

We  find  a  description  of  a  pilgrim  in  full  costume,  and  decorated  with 
signs,  in  "  Piers  Ploughman's  Vision."     He  was  apparelled — 

"  In  pilgrym's  wise. 
He  bare  a  burdoun*  y-bounde  with  a  broad  list, 
In  a  withwinde-wise  y-wounden  about ; 
A  bollef  and  a  bagge  he  bare  by  his  side, 
An  hundred  of  ampulles  ;  on  his  hat  seten 
Signes  of  SynayJ  and  shells  of  Galice,§ 
And  many  a  crouche||  on  his  cloke  and  keys  of  Rome, 
And  the  vernicle  before,  for  men  sholde  knowe, 
And  se  bi  his  signes,  whom  he  sought  hadde. 

These  folk  prayedU  hym  first  fro  whence  he  came  ? 
'From  Synay,'  he  seide,  'and  from  our  Lordes  Sepulcre: 
In  Bethlem  and  in  Babiloyne  I  have  ben  in  bothe  ; 
In  Armonye**  and  Alesaundre,  in  many  other  places. 

*  Fosbroke  has  fallen  into  the  error  of  calling  this  a  burden  bound  to  the  pilgrim's 
back  with  a  list :  it  is  the  bourdon,  the  pilgrim's  staff,  round  which  a  list,  a  long  narrow 
strip  of  cloth,  was  wound  cross-wise.  We  do  not  elsewhere  meet  with  this  list  round  the 
staff,  and  it  does  not  appear  what  was  its  use  or  meaning.  We  may  call  to  mind  the  list 
wound  cross-wise  round  a  barber's  pole,  and  imagine  that  this  list  was  attached  to  the 
pilgrim's  staff  for  use,  or  we  may  remember  that  a  vexillum,  or  banner,  is  attached  to  a 
bishop's  staff,  and  that  a  long,  narrow  riband  is  often  affixed  to  the  cross-headed  staff 
which  is  placed  in  our  Saviour's  hand  in  mediaeval  representations  of  the  Resurrection. 
The  staff  in  our  cut,  p.  163,  looks  as  if  it  might  have  such  a  list  wound  round  it. 

t  Fosbrooke,  and  Wright,  and  Dr.  Rock,  all  understand  this  to  be  a  bowl.  Was  it  a 
bottle  to  carry  drink,  shaped  something  like  a  gourd,  such  as  we  not  unfrequently  find 
hung  on  the  hook  of  a  shepherd's  staff  in  pictures  of  the  annunciation  to  the  shepherds, 
and  such  as  the  pilgrim  from  Erasmus's  "  Praise  of  Folly,"  bears  on  his  back  ? 

%  Sinai.  §  Galice — Compostella  in  Galicia.  ||  Cross. 

H  Asked :  people  ask  him  first  of  all  from  whence  he  is  come. 

**  Armenia. 

Pilgrim  Signs.  175 

Ye  may  se  by  my  signes,  that  sitten  in  my  hat, 
That  I  have  walked  ful  wide  in  weet  and  in  drye, 
And  sought  good  seintes  for  my  soules  helthe.' " 

The   little   bit  of  satire,  for   the  sake  of  which  this  model  pilgrim  is 

introduced,  is  too  telling — especially  after  the  wretched  superstitions  which 

we  have  been  noticing — to  be  omitted  here.     "  Knowest  thou  ?  "  asks  the 

Ploughman — 

"  '  Kondest  thou  aught  a  cor-saint*  that  men  calle  Truthe  ? 

Canst  thou  aught  wetenf  us  the  way  where  that  wight  dwelleth  ? 

"  Nay,"  replies  the  much-travelled  pilgrim — 

" '  Nay,  so  me  God  helpe, 

I  saw  nevere  palmere  with  pyke  and  with  scrippe 
Ask  after  hym,  ever  til  now  in  this  place.'  " 

Holy  body,  object  of  pilgrimage.  +  Tell  u. 



E  shall  not  wonder  that  these  various  pilgrimages  were  so  pepular 
as  they  were,  when  we  learn  that  there  were  not  only  physical 
panaceas  to  be  obtained,  and  spiritual  pardons  and  immunities 
to  be  procured  at  the  shrines  of  the  saints,  but  that  moreover  the  journey 
to  them  was  otten  made  a  very  pleasant  holiday  excursion. 

Far  be  it  from  us  to  deny  that  there  was  many  a  pilgrim  who  undertook 
his  pilgrimage  in  anything  but  a  holiday  spirit,  and  who  made  it  anything 
but  a  gay  excursion ;  many  a  man  who  sought,  howbeit  mistakenly,  to 
atone  for  wrong  done,  by  making  himself  an  outcast  upon  earth,  and  sub- 
mitting to  the  privations  of  mendicant  pilgrimage  ;  many  a  one  who  sought 
thus  to  escape  out  of  reach  of  the  stings  of  remorse  ;  many  a  one  who  tore 
himself  from  home  and  the  knowledge  of  friends,  and  went  to  foreign 
countries  to  hide  his  shame  from  the  eyes  of  those  who  knew  him.  Certainly, 
here  and  there,  might  have  been  met  a  man  or  a  woman,  whose  coarse 
sackcloth  robe,  girded  to  the  naked  skin,  and  unshod  feet,  were  signs  of 
real  if  mistaken  penitence ;  and  who  carried  grievous  memories  and  a  sad 
heart  through  every  mile  of  his  weary  way.  We  give  here,  from  Hans 
Burgmaier's  "  Images  de  Saints,  &c,  de  la  Famille  de  PEmpereur  Maxi- 
milian I.,"  a  very  excellent  illustration  of  a  pilgrim  of  this  class.  But  this 
was  not  the  general  character  of  the  home  pilgrimages  of  which  we  are 
especially  speaking.  In  the  great  majority  of  cases  they  seem  to  have 
been  little  more  than  a  pleasant  religious  holiday.*     No  doubt  the  general 

♦  The  Knight  of  La  Tour  Landry,  in  one  of  his  stories,  tells  us  :  "  There  was  a  young 
lady  that  had  her  herte  raoche  on  the  worlde.  And  there  was  a  squier  that  loved  her  and 



itention  was  devotional ;  very  likely  it  was  often  in  a  moment  of  religious 
fervour  that  the  vow  was  taken ;  the  religious  ceremony  with  which  the 
journey  was  begun,  must  have  had  a  solemnising  effect ;  and  doubtless 
when  the  pilgrim  knelt  at  the  shrine,  an  unquestioning  faith  in  all  the  tales 
which  he  had  heard  of  its  sanctity  and  occasional  miraculous  power,  and 
the  imposing  effect  of  the  scene,  would  affect  his  mind  with  an  unusual 
religious  warmth  and  exaltation.  But  between 
the  beginning  and  the  end  of  the  pilgrimage 
there  was  a  long  interval,  which  we  say — 
not  in  a  censorious  spirit — was  usually  occu- 
pied by  a  very  pleasant  excursion.  The  same 
fine  work  which  has  supplied  us  with  so  ex- 
cellent an  illustration  of  an  ascetic  pilgrim, 
affords  another  equally  valuable  companion- 
picture  of  a  pilgrim  of  the  more  usual  class. 
He  travels  on  foot,  indeed,  staff  in  hand, 
but  he  is  comfortably  shod  and  clad ;  and 
while  the  one  girds  his  sackcloth  shirt  to  his 
bare  body  with  an  iron  chain,  the  other  has 
his  belt  well  furnished  with  little  conveni- 
ences of  travel.  It  is  quite  clear  that  the 
journey  was  not  necessarily  on  foot,  the 
voluntary  pilgrims  might  ride  if  they  preferred 
it.*  Nor  did  they  beg  their  bread  as  peni- 
tential pilgrims  did;  but  put  good  store  of 

Pilgrim  in  Hair  Shirt  and  Cloak. 

she  hym.  And  for  because  that  she  might  have  better  leiser  to  speke  with  hym.  she  made 
her  husbande  to  understande  that  she  had  vowed  in  diverse  pilgrimages  ;  and  her  husband, 
as  he  that  thought  none  evelle  and  wolde  not  displese  her,  suffered  and  held  hym  content 

that  she  should  go  wherin  her  lust Alle  thei  that  gone  on  pilgrimage  to 

a  place  for  foul  plesaunce  more  than  devocion  of  the  place  that  thei  go  to,  and  covereth 
thaire  goinge  with  service  of  God,  fowlethe  and  scornethe  God  and  our  Ladie,  and  the 
place  that  thei  goo  to." — Book  of  La  Tour  Landry,  chap,  xxxiv. 

*  "I  was  a  poor  pilgrim,"  says  one  ("History  of  the  Troubadours,"  p.  300),  "when 
I  came  to  your  court ;  and  have  lived  honestly  and  respectably  in  it  on  the  wages  you 
have  given  me  ;  restore  to  me  my  mule,  my  wallet,  and  my  staff,  and  I  will  return  in  the 
same  manner  as  I  came." 


178  The  Pilgrims  of  the  Middle  Ages. 

money  in  their  purse  at  starting,  and  ambled  easily  along  the  green  roads, 
and  lived  well  at  the  comfortable  inns  along  their  way. 

In  many  instances  when  the  time  of  pilgrimage  is  mentioned,  we  find 
that  it  was  the  spring ;  Chaucer's  pilgrims  started — 

"  When  that  April  with  his  showeres  sote 
The  drouth  of  March  had  perced  to  the  root ;" 

and  Fosbroke  "  apprehends  that  Lent  was  the  usual  time  for  these  pil- 

It  was  the  custom  for  the  pilgrims  to  associate  in  companies ;  indeed, 
since  they  travelled  the  same  roads,  about  the  same  time  of  year,  and 
stopped  at  the  same  inns  and  hospitals,  it  was  inevitable ;  and;  they  seem 
to  have  taken  pains  to  make  the  journey  agreeable  to  one  another. 
Chaucer's  "  hoste  of  the  Tabard  "  says  to  his  guests  : — 

"  Ye  go  to  Canterbury  :  God  you  speed, 
The  blisful  martyr  quite*  you  your  mede ; 
And  well  I  wot,  as  ye  go  by  the  way, 
Ye  shapen  you  to  talken  and  to  play ; 
For  trewely  comfort  and  worthe  is  none, 
To  riden  by  the  way  dumb  as  a  stone." 

Even  the  poor  penitential  pilgrim  who  travelled  barefoot  did  not  travel,  all 
the  way  at  least,  on  the  hard  and  rough  highway.  Special  roads  seem  to 
have  been  made  to  the  great  shrines.  Thus  the  "  Pilgrim's  Road  "  may 
still  be  traced  across  Kent,  almost  from  London  to  Canterbury;  and  if 
the  Londoner  wishes  for  a  pleasant  and  interesting  home  excursion,  he 
may  put  a  scrip  on  his  back,  and  take  a  bourdon  in  his  hand,  and  make  a 
summer's  pilgrimage  on  the  track  of  Chaucer's  pilgrims.  The  pilgrim's 
road  to  Walsingham  is  still  known  as  the  "  Palmer's  Way  "  and  the  "  Wal- 
singham  Green  Way."  It  may  be  traced  along  the  principal  part  of  its 
course  for  sixty  miles  in  the  diocese  of  Norwich.  The  common  people 
used  to  call  the  Milky  Way  the  Walsingham  Way. 

Dr.  Rock  tells  us  *  that  "  besides  its  badge,  each  pilgrimage  had  also  its 
gathering  cry,  which  the  pilgrims  shouted  out  as,  at  the  grey  of  morn,  they 

*  "  Church  of  our  Fathers,"  vol.  iii.  p.  442. 

Pilgrimage.  I7Q 

slowly  crept  through  the  town  or  hamlet  where  they  had  slept  that  night." 
By  calling  aloud  upon  God  for  help,  and  begging  the  intercession  of  that 
saint  to  whose  shrine  they  were  wending,  they  bade  all  their  fellow  pilgrims 
to  come  forth  upon  their  road  and  begin  another  day's  march.* 

After  having  said  their  prayers  and  told  their  beads,  occasionally  did 
they  strive  to  shorten  the  weary  length  of  the  way  by  song  and  music.  As 
often  as  a  crowd  of  pilgrims  started  together  from  one  place,  they  seem 
always  to  have  hired  a  few  singers  and  one  or  two  musicians  to  go  with 
them.  Just  before  reaching  any  town,  they  drew  themselves  up  into  a  line, 
and  thus  walked  through  its  streets  in  procession,  singing  and  ringing  their 
little  hand-bells,  with  a  player  on  the  bagpipes  at  their  head.  They  ought 
in  strictness,  perhaps,  to  have  been  psalms  which  they  sung,  and  the  tales 
with  which  they  were  accustomed  to  lighten  the  way  ought  to  have  been 
saintly  legends  and  godly  discourses ;  but  in  truth  they  were  of  very  varied 
character,  according  to  the  character  of  the  individual  pilgrims.  The 
songs  were  often  love-songs ;  and  though  Chaucer's  poor  parson  of  a  town 
preached  a  sermon  and  was  listened  to,  yet  the  romances  of  chivalry  or  the 
loose  faiblieux  which  were  current  probably  formed  the  majority  of  the 
real  "  Canterbury  tales."  In  Foxe's  "  Acts  and  Monuments,"  we  have  a 
very  graphic  and  amusing  little  sketch  of  a  company  of  pilgrims  passing 
through  a  town  : — 

W.  Thorpe  tells  Archbishop  Arundel,  "  When  diverse  men  and  women 
will  go  thus  after  their  own  willes,  and  finding  out  one  pilgrimage,  they 
will  order  with  them  before  to  have  with  them  both  men  and  women  that 
can  well  synge  wanton  songs;  and  some  other  pilgrims  will  have  with 
them  bagge-pipes,  so  that  every  towne  they  come  throwe,  what  with  the 
noyse  of  their  singing  and  with  the  sound  of  their  pipyng,  and  with  the 
jingling  of  their  Canterbury  belles,  and  with  barking  out  of  dogges  after 
them,  that  they  make  more  noise  than  if  the  kinge  came  there  awaye  with 
all  his  clarions,  and  many  other  minstrelles.  And  if  these  men  and  women 
be  a  moneth  on  their  pilgrimage,  many  of  them  shall  be  an  half  year  after 

*  Thus  Pope  Calixtus  tells  us  ("  Sermones  Bib.  Pat.,"  ed.  Bignio,  xv.  350)  that  the 
pilgrims  to  Santiago  were  accustomed  before  dawn,  at  the  top  of  each  town,  to  cry  with 
a  loud  voice,  "  Deus  Adjuva  !"  "  Sancte  Jacobe  i"     "  God  Help  !  "  "  Santiago  ! " 

1 80  The  Pilgrims  of  the  Middle  Ages, 

great  janglers,  tale-tellers,  and  liars."  The  archbishop  defends  the  fashion, 
and  gives  us  further  information  on  the  subject,  saying  "  that  pilgremys 
have  with  them  both  syngers  and  also  pipers,  that  when  one  of  them  that 
goeth  barefoote  striketh  his  toe  upon  a  stone,  and  hurteth  him  sore,  and 
maketh  him  to  blede,  it  is  well  done  that  he  or  his  fellow  begyn  than  a 
songe,  or  else  take  out  of  his  bosom  a  bagge-pipe,  for  to  drive  away  with 
such  myrthe  the  hurte  of  his  fellow ;  for  with  soche  solace  the  travell  and 
weriness  of  pylgremes  is  lightly  and  merily  broughte  forth." 

Erasmus's  colloquy  entitled  "  Peregrinatio  Religionis  ergo,"  enables  us 
to  accompany  the  pilgrim  to  the  shrine  of  Our  Lady  of  Walsingham,  and 
to  join  him  in  his  devotions  at  the  shrine.  We  shall  throw  together  the 
most  interesting  portions  of  the  narrative  from  Mr.  J.  G.  Nichols's  transla- 
tion of  it.  "  It  is,"  he  says,  "  the  most  celebrated  place  throughout  all 
England,*  nor  could  you  easily  find  in  that  island  the  man  who  ventures 
to  reckon  on  prosperity  unless  he  yearly  salute  her  with  some  small  offer- 
ing according  to  his  ability."  "  The  town  of  Walsingham,"  he  says,  "  is 
maintained  by  scarcely  anything  else  but  the  number  of  its  visitors."  The 
shrine  of  Our  Lady  was  not  within  the  priory  church ;  but  on  the  north 
side  was  the  wooden  chapel  dedicated  to  "  Our  Lady,"  about  twenty-three 
feet  by  thirteen,  enclosed  within  a  chapel  of  stone  forty-eight  feet  by 
thirty,  which  Erasmus  describes  as  unfinished.  On  the  west  of  the  church 
was  another  wooden  building,  in  which  were  two  holy  wells  also  dedicated 
to  the  Virgin.  Erasmus  describes  these  "  holy  places."  "  Within  the 
church,  which  I  have  called  unfinished,  is  a  small  chapel  made  of  wainscot, 
and  admitting  the  devotees  on  each  side  by  a  narrow  little  door.  The 
light  is  small,  indeed  scarcely  any  but  from  the  wax  lights.  A  most  grateful 
fragrance  meets  the  nostrils.  When  you  look  in,  you  would  say  it  was 
the  mansion  of  the  saints,  so  much  does  it  glitter  on  all  sides  with  jewels, 
gold,  and  silver.  In  the  inner  chapel  one  canon  attends  to  receive  and 
take  charge  of  the  offerings,"  which  the  pilgrims  placed  upon  the  altar. 
"  To  the  east  of  this  is  a  chapel  full  of  wonders.  Thither  I  go.  Another 
guide  receives  me.     There  we  worshipped  for  a  short  time.     Presently  the 

*  Surely  he  should  have  excepted  St.  Thomas's  shrine? 

Wahingham.  181 

joint  of  a  man's  finger  is  exhibited  to  us,  the  largest  of  three ;  I  kiss  it ; 
and  then  I  ask  whose  relics  were  these?  He  says,  St.  Peter's.  The 
Apostle  ?  I  ask.  He  said,  Yes.  Then  observing  the  size  of  the  joint, 
which  might  have  been  that  of  a  giant,  I  remarked,  Peter  must  have  been 
a  man  of  very  large  size.  At  this,  one  of  my  companions  burst  into  a 
laugh ;  which  I  certainly  took  ill,  for  if  he  had  been  quiet  the  attendant 
would  have  shown  us  all  the  relics.  However,  we  pacified  him  by  offering 
a  few  pence.  Before  the  chapel  was  a  shed,  which  they  say  was  suddenly, 
in  the  winter  season,  when  everything  was  covered  with  snow,  brought 
thither  from  a  great  distance.  Under  this  shed  are  two  wells  full  to  the 
brink ;  they  say  the  spring  is  sacred  to  the  Holy  Virgin.  The  water  is 
wonderfully  cold,  and  efficacious  in  curing  the  pains  of  the  head  and 
stomach.  We  next  turned  towards  the  heavenly  milk  of  the  Blessed  Virgin" 
(kept  apparently  in  another  chapel) ;  "  that  milk  is  kept  on  the  high-altar ; 
in  the  centre  of  which  is  Christ ;  at  his  right  hand  for  honour's  sake,  his 
mother ;  for  the  milk  personifies  the  mother.  As  soon  as  the  canon  in 
attendance  saw  us,  he  rose,  put  on  his  surplice,  added  the  stole  to  his  neck, 
prostrated  himself  with  due  ceremony,  and  worshipped  ;  anon  he  stretched 
forth  the  thrice-holy  milk  to  be  kissed  by  us.  On  this,  we  also,  on  the 
lowest  step  of  the  altar,  religiously  fell  prostrate ;  and  having  first  called 
upon  Christ,  we  addressed  the  Virgin  with  a  little  prayer  like  this,  which  I 
had  prepared  for  the  purpose 

"  '  A  very  pious  prayer  ;  what  reply  did  she  make  ? ' 

"  Each  appeared  to  assent,  if  my  eyes  were  not  deceived.  For  the  holy 
milk  seemed  to  leap  a  little,  and  the  Eucharist  shone  somewhat  brighter. 
Meanwhile  the  ministering  canon  approached  us,  saying  nothing,  but  hold- 
ing out  a  little  box,  such  as  are  presented  by  the  toll  collectors  on  the 
bridges  in  Germany.     I  gave  a  few  pence,  which  he  offered  to  the  Virgin." 

The  visitor  on  this  occasion  being  a  distinguished  person,  and  performing 
a  trifling  service  for  the  canons,  was  presented  by  the  sub-prior  with  a  relic. 
"  He  then  drew  from  a  bag  a  fragment  of  wood,  cut  from  a  beam  on  which 
the  Virgin  Mother  had  been  seen  to  rest.  A  wonderful  fragrance  at  once 
proved  it  to  be  a  thing  extremely  sacred.  For  my  part,  having  received 
so  distinguished  a  present,  prostrate  and  with  uncovered  head,  I  kissed  it 

1 82  The  Pilgrims  of  the  Middle  Ages. 

three  or  four  times  with  the  highest  veneration,  and  placed  it  in  my  purse. 
I  would  not  exchange  that  fragment,  small  as  it  is,  for  all  the  gold  in 
the  Tagus.  I  will  enclose  it  in  gold,  but  so  that  it  may  shine  through 

He  is  also  shown  some  relics  not  shown  to  ordinary  visitors.  "  Several 
wax  candles  are  lighted,  and  a  small  image  is  produced,  neither  excelling 
in  material  nor  workmanship ;  but  in  virtue  most  efficacious.  He  then 
exhibited  the  golden  and  silver  statues.  '  This  one,'  says  he,  '  is  entirely 
of  gold ;  this  is  silver  gilt ;  he  added  the  weight  of  each,  its  value,  and  the 
name  of  the  donor.*     Then  he  drew  forth  from  the  altar  itself,  a  world  of 

*  In  the  Guardian  newspaper  of  Sept.  5,  i860,  a  visitor  to  Rome  gives  a  de- 
scription of  the  exhibition  of  relics  there,  which  forms  an  interesting  parallel  with  the 
account  in  the  text :  "  Shortly  before  Ash-Wednesday  a  public  notice  ('Invito  Sagro ') 
is  issued  by  authority,  setting  forth  that  inasmuch  as  certain  of  the  principal  relics  and 
'  sacra  immagini '  are  to  be  exposed  during  the  ensuing  season  of  Lent,  in  certain  churches 
specified,  the  confraternities  of  Rome  are  exhorted  by  the  pope  to  resort  in  procession  to 

tliose  churches The  ceremony  is  soon  described.     The  procession  entered 

slowly  at  the  west  door,  moved  up  towards  the  altar,  and  when  the  foremost  were  within 
a  few  yards  of  it,  all  knelt  down  for  a  few  minutes  on  the  pavement  of  the  church  to 
worship.  At  a  signal  given  by  one  of  the  party,  they  rose,  and  slowly  defiled  off  in 
the  direction  of  the  chapel  wherein  is  preserved  the  column  of  the  flagellation  (?).  By 
the  way,  no  one  of  the  other  sex  may  ever  enter  that  chapel,  except  on  cne  day  in  the 
year — the  very  day  of  which  I  am  speaking ;  and  on  that  day  men  are  as  rigorously  excluded. 
Well,  all  knelt  again  for  a  few  minutes,  then  rose,  and  moved  slowly  towards  the  door, 
departing  as  they  came,  and  making  way  for  another  procession  to  enter.  It  was  altogether 
a  most  interesting  and  agreeable  spectacle.  Utterly  alien  to  our  English  tastes  and  habits 
certainly ;  but  the  institution  evidently  suited  the  tastes  of  the  people  exactly,  and  I  dare 
say  may  be  conducive  to  piety,  and  recommend  itself  to  their  religious  instincts.  Coming 
from  their  several  parishes,  and  returning,  they  chant  psalms. 

"  It  follows  naturally  to  speak  a  little  more  particularly  about  the  adoration  of  relics, 
for  this  is  just  another  of  those  many  definite  religious  acts  which  make  up  the  sum  of 
popular  devotion,  and  supply  the  void  occasioned  by  the  entire  discontinuance  of  the  old 
breviary  offices.  In  the  '  Diario  Romano '  (a  little  book  describing  what  is  publicly 
transacted,  of  a  religious  character,  during  every  day  in  the  year),  daily  throughout  Lent, 
and  indeed  on  every  occasion  of  unusual  solemnity  (of  which,  I  think,  there  are  eighty- 
five  in  all),  you  read  '  Stazione  '  at  such  a  church.  This  (whatever  it  may  imply  beside) 
denotes  that  relics  are  displayed  for  adoration  in  that  church  on  the  day  indicated.  The 
pavement  is  accordingly  strewed  with  box,  lights  bum  on  the  altar,  and  there  is  a  constant 
influx  of  visitors  to  that  church  throughout  the  day.  For  example,  at  St.  Prisca's,  a  little 
church  on  the  Aventine,  there  was  a  '  Stazione,'  3rd  April.  In  the  Romish  Missal  you 
will  perceive  that  on  the  Feria  tertia  Majoris  hebdomadae  (this  year  April  3),  there  is 

Relic  Worship.  183 

admirable  things,  the  individual  articles  of  which,  if  I  were  to  proceed  to 
describe,  this  day  would  not  suffice  for  the  relation.  So  that  pilgrimage 
terminated  most  fortunately  for  me.  I  was  abundantly  gratified  with 
sights ;  and  I  bring  away  this  inestimable  gift,  a  token  bestowed  by  the 
Virgin  herself. 

" '  Have  you  made  no  trial  of  the  powers  of  your  wood  ?' 

"  I  have  :  in  an  inn,  before  the  end  of  three  days,  I  found  a  man  afflicted 

Statio  ad  S.  Priscam.  A  very  interesting  church,  by  the  way,  it  proved,  being  evi- 
dently built  on  a  site  of  immense  antiquity — traditionally  said  to  be  the  house  of  Prisca. 
You  descend  by  thirty-one  steps  into  the  subterranean  edifice.  At  this  little  out-of-the- 
way  church,  there  were  strangers  arriving  all  the  time  we  were  there.  Thirty  voung 
Dominicans  from  S.  Sabina,  hard  by,  streamed  down  into  the  crypt,  knelt  for  a  time, 
and  then  repaired  to  perform  a  similar  act  of  worship  above,  at  the  altar.  The  friend 
who  conducted  me  to  the  spot,  showed  me,  in  the  vineyard  immediately  opposite,  some 
extraordinary  remains  of  the  wall  of  Servius  Tullius.  On  our  return  we  observed  fresh 
parties  straggling  towards  the  church,  bent  on  performing  their  '  visits.'  It  should,  per- 
haps, be  mentioned  that  prayers  have  been  put  forth  by  authority,  to  be  used  on  such 

"  I  must  not  pass  by  this  subject  of  relics  so  slightly,  for  it  evidently  occupies  a  con- 
siderable place  in  the  public  devotions  of  a  Roman  Catholic.  Thus  the  '  Invito  Sagro,' 
already  adverted  to,  specifies  which  relics  will  be  displayed  in  each  of  the  six  churches 
enumerated — {e.g.  the  heads  of  SS.  Peter  and  Paul,  their  chains,  some  wood  of  the 
cross,  &c.) — granting  seven  years  of  indulgence  for  every  visit,  by  whomsoever  paid  ; 
and  promising  plenary  indulgence  to  every  person  who,  after  confessing  and  communi- 
cating, shall  thrice  visit  each  of  the  aforesaid  churches,  and  pray  for  awhile  on  behalf  of 
holy  church.  There  are  besides,  on  nine  chief  festivals,  as  many  great  displays  of  relics 
at  Rome,  the  particulars  of  which  may  be  seen  in  the  '  Annee  Liturgique,'  pp.  189 — 206. 
I  witnessed  one,  somewhat  leisurely,  at  the  Church  of  the  Twelve  Apostles,  on  the  after- 
noon of  the  1st  of  May.  There  was  a  congregation  of  about  two  or  three  hundred  in 
church,  while  somebody  in  a  lofty  gallery  displayed  the  relics,  his  companion  proclaiming 
with  a  loud  voice  what  each  was :  *  Questo  e  il  braccio,'  &c,  &c,  which  such  an  one 
gave  to  this  •  alma  basilica,' — the  formula  being  in  every  instance  very  sonorouslv 
intoned.  There  was  part  of  the  arm  of  S.  Bartholomew  and  of  S.  James  the  Less ; 
part  of  S.  Andrew's  leg,  arm,  and  cross ;  part  of  one  of  S.  Paul's  fingers ;  one  of  the 
nails  with  which  S.  Peter  was  crucified ;  S.  Philip's  right  foot ;  liquid  blood  of  S.  James; 
some  of  the  remains  of  S.  John  the  Evangelist,  of  the  Baptist,  of  Joseph,  and  of  the 
Blessed  Virgin  ;  together  with  part  of  the  manger,  cradle,  cross,  and  tomb  of  our  Lord, 

&c,  &c I  have  dwelt  somewhat  disproportionally  on  relics,  but  they  play 

so  conspicuous  a  part  in  the  religious  system  of  the  country,  that  in  enumerating  the 
several  substitutes  which  have  been  invented  for  the  old  breviary  services,  it  would  not 
be  nearly  enough  to  have  discussed  the  subject  in  a  few  lines.  A  visit  paid  to  a  church 
where  such  objects  are  exposed,  is  a  distinct  as  well  as  popular  religious  exercise  ;  and  it 
always  seemed  to  me  to  be  performed  with  great  reverence  and  devotion." 

1 84  The  Pilgrims  of  the  Middle  Ages. 

in  mind,  for  whom  charms  were  then  in  preparation.  This  piece  of  wood 
was  placed  under  his  pillow,  unknown  to  himself;  kt  fell  into  a  sleep 
equally  deep  and  prolonged  ;  in  the  morning  he  rose  of  whole  mind." 

Chaucer  left  his  account  of  the  Canterbury  Pilgrimage  incomplete  ;  but 
another  author,  soon  after  Chaucer's  death,  wrote  a  supplement  to  his 
great  work,  which,  however  inferior  in  genius  to  the  work  of  the  great 
master,  yet  admirably  serves  our  purpose  of  giving  a  graphic  contemporary 
picture  of  the  doings  of  a  company  of  pilgrims  to  St.  Thomas,  when 
arrived  at  their  destination.  Erasmus,  too,  in  the  colloquy  already  so 
largely  quoted,  enables  us  to  add  some  details  to  the  picture.  The 
pilgrims  of  Chaucer's  continuator  arrived  in  Canterbury  at  "  mydmorowe." 
Erasmus  tells  us  what  they  saw  as  they  approached  the  city.  "  The  church 
dedicated  to  St.  Thomas,  erects  itself  to  heaven  with  such  majesty,  thai 

even  from  a  distance  it   strikes  religious  awe  into  the  beholders 

There  are  two  vast  towers  that  seem  to  salute  the  visitor  from  afar,  and 
make  the  surrounding  country  far  and  wide  resound  with  the  wonderful 
booming  of  their  brazen  bells."  Being  arrived,  they  took  up  their  lodgings 
at  the  "  Chequers."  * 

"  They  toke  their  In  and  loggit  them  at  midmorowe  I  trowe 
Atte  Cheker  of  the  hope,  that  many  a  man  doth  know." 

And  mine  host  of  the  "  Tabard,"  in  Southwark,  their  guide,  having  given 
the  necessary  orders  for  their  dinner,  they  all  proceeded  to  the  cathedral 
to  make  their  offerings  at  the  shrine  of  St.  Thomas.  At  the  church  door 
they  were  sprinkled  with  holy  water  as  they  entered.  The  knight  and  the 
better  sort  of  the  company  went  straight  to  their  devotions  ;  but  some  of 
the  pilgrims  of  a  less  educated  class,  began  to  wander  about  the  nave  of 
the  church,  curiously  admiring  all  the  objects  around  them.  The  miller 
and  his  companions  entered  into  a  warm  discussion  concerning  the  armc 
in  the  painted  glass  windows.  At  length  the  host  of  the  "  Tabard  "  called 
them  together  and  reproved  them  for  their  negligence,  whereupon  they 
hastened  to  make  their  offerings  : — 

*  From  Mr.  Wright's  "  Archaeological  Album,"  f    J9. 


« 85 

"  Then  passed  they  forth  boystly  gogling  with  their  hedds 
Kneeled  down  to-fore  the  shrine,  and  hertily  their  beads 
They  prayed  to  St.  Thomas,  in  such  wise  as  they  couth  ; 
And  sith  the  holy  relikes  each  man  with  his  mouth 
Kissed,  as  a  goodly  monk  the  names  told  and  taught. 
And  sith  to  other  places  of  holyness  they  ranght, 
And  were  in  their  devocioune  tyl  service  were  al  done." 

Erasmus  gives  a  very  detailed  account  of  these  "  holy  relikes,"  and  of  the 
other  places  of  holiness": — 

"  On  your  entrance  [by  the  south  porch]  the  edifice  at  once  displays  itself 

all  its  spaciousness  and  majesty.  To  that  part  any  one  is  admitted. 
?here  are  some  books  fixed  to  the  pillars,  and  the  monument  of  I  know 
lot  whom.  The  iron  screens  stop  further  progress,  but  yet  admit  a  view 
)f  the  whole  space,  from  the  choir  to  the  end  of  the  church.  To  the  choir 
rou  mount  by  many  steps,  under  which  is  a  passage  leading  to  the  north. 
it  that  spot  is  shown  a  wooden  altar,  dedicated  to  the  Virgin,  but  mean, 
lor  remarkable  in  any  respect,  unless  as  a  monument  of  antiquity,  putting 

shame  the  extravagance  of  these  times.  There  the  pious  old  man  is 
lid  to  have  breathed  his  last  farewell  to  the  Virgin  when  his  death  was  at 

id.  On  the  altar  is  the  point  of  the  sword  with  which  the  head  of  the 
lost  excellent  prelate  was  cleft,  and  his  brain  stirred,  that  he  might  be  the 
lore  instantly  despatched.  The  sacred  rust  of  this  iron,  through  love  of 
le  martyr,  we  religiously  kissed.  Leaving  this  spot,  we  descended  to  the 
ypt.  It  has  its  own  priests.  There  was  first  exhibited  the  perforated 
cull  of  the  martyr,  the  forehead  is  left  bare  to  be  kissed,  while  the  other 
are  covered  with  silver.  At  the  same  time  is  shown  a  slip  of  lead, 
lgraved  with  his  name  Thomas  Acrensis*  There  also  hang  in  the  dark 
le  hair  shirts,  the  girdles  and  bandages  with  which  that  prelate  subdued 
flesh ;  striking  horror  with  their  very  appearance,  and  reproaching  us 
ith  our  indulgence  and  our  luxuries.  From  hence  we  returned  into  the 
loir.  On  the  north  side  the  aumbries  were  unlocked.  It  is  wonderful  to 
;11  what  a  quantity  of  bones  was  there  brought  out :  skulls,  jaw-bones,  teeth, 

ids,  fingers,  entire  arms  ;  on  all  which  we  devoutly  bestowed  our  kisses; 

*  This  slip  of  lead  had  probably  been  put  into  his  coffin, 
lomas  of  Acre. 

He  is  sometimes  called 

1 86  The  Pilgrims  of  the  Middle  Ages. 

and  the  exhibition  seemed  likely  to  last  for  ever,  if  my  somewhat  unmanage- 
able companion  in  that  pilgrimage  had  not  interrupted  the  zeal  of  the 

"  ■  Did  he  offend  the  priest  ?' 

"When  an  arm  was  brought  forward  which  had  still  the  bloody  flesh 
adhering,  he  drew  back  from  kissing  it,  and  even  betrayed  some  weariness. 
The  priest  presently  shut  up  his  treasures.  We  next  viewed  the  table  of 
the  altar,  and  its  ornaments,  and  then  the  articles  which  are  kept  under  the 
altar,  all  most  sumptuous  ;  you  would  say  Midas  and  Croesus  were  beggars 
if  you  saw  that  vast  assemblage  of  gold  and  silver.  After  this  we  were 
led  into  the  sacristy.  What  a  display  was  there  of  silken  vestments,  what 
an  array  of  golden  candlesticks ! From  this  place  we  were  con- 
ducted back  to  the  upper  floor,  for  behind  the  high-altar  you  ascend  again 
as  into  a  new  church.  There,  in  a  little  chapel,  is  shown  the  whole 
figure  of  the  excellent  man,  gilt  and  adorned  with  many  jewels.  Then 
the  head  priest  (prior)  came  forward.  He  opened  to  us  the  shrine  in 
which  what  is  left  of  the  body  of  the  holy  man  is  said  to  rest.  A  wooden 
canopy  covers  the  shrine,  and  when  that  is  drawn  up  with  ropes,  inestim- 
able treasures  are  opened  to  view.  The  least  valuable  part  was  gold ; 
every  part  glistened,  shone,  and  sparkled  with  rare  and  very  large  jewels, 
some  of  them  exceeding  the  size  of  a  goose's  egg.  There  some  monks 
stood  around  with  much  veneration  j  the  cover  being  raised  we  all  wor- 
shipped. The  prior  with  a  white  rod  pointed  out  each  jewel,  telling  its 
name  in  French,  its  value,  and  the  name  of  its  donor,  for  the  principal 

of  them  were  offerings  sent  by  sovereign  princes From  hence  we 

returned  to  the  crypt,  where  the  Virgin  Mother  has  her  abode,  but  a  some- 
what dark  one,  being  edged  in  by  more  than  one  screen. 

"  '  What  was  she  afraid  of?' 

"  Nothing,  I  imagine,  but  thieves ;  for  I  have  never  seen  anything 
more  burdened  with  riches.     When  lamps  were  brought,  we  beheld   a 

more  than  royal  spectacle Lastly  we  were  conducted  back  to  the 

sacristy ;  there  was  brought  out  a  box  covered  with  black  leather ;  it  was 
laid  upon  the  table  and  opened ;  immediately  all  knelt  and  worshipped. 

" '  What  was  in  it  ?' 

5/.  Edmund? s  Bury.  187 

"  Some  torn  fragments  of  linen,  and  most  of  them  retaining  marks  or 
dirt After  offering  us  a  cup  of  wine,  the  prior  courteously  dis- 
missed us.w 

When  Chaucer's  pilgrims  had  seen  such  of  this  magnificence  as  existed 
in  their  earlier  time,  noon  approaching,  they  gathered  together  and  went  to 
their  dinner.  Before  they  left  the  church,  however,  they  bought  signs  "as 
the  manner  was,"  to  show  to  all  men  that  they  had  performed  this  meri- 
torious act 

"  There  as  manere  and  custom  is,  signes  there  they  bought 
For  men  of  contre'  should  know  whom  they  had  sought. 
Each  man  set  his  silver  in  such  thing  as  they  liked, 
And  in  the  meen  while  the  miller  had  y-piked 
His  bosom  full  of  signys  of  Canterbury  broches. 
Others  set  their  signys  upon  their  hedes,  and  some  upon  their  cap, 
And  sith  to  dinner-ward  they  gan  for  to  stapp." 

The  appearance  of  these  shrines  and  their  surroundings  is  brought 
before  our  eyes  by  the  pictures  in  a  beautiful  volume  of  Lydgate's  "  History 
of  St.  Edmund  "  in  the  British  Museum  (Harl.  2,278).  At  f.  40  is  a  repre- 
sentation of  the  shrine  of  St.  Edmund  in  the  abbey  church  of  St  Edmund's 
Bury.  At  f.  9  a  still  better  representation  of  it,  showing  the  iron  grille 
which  enclosed  it,  a  monk  worshipping  at  it,  and  a  clerk  with  a  wand,  pro- 
bably the  custodian  whose  duty  it  was  to  show  the  various  jewels  and 
relics — as  the  prior  did  to  Erasmus  at  Canterbury.  At  f.  47  is  another 
shrine,  with  some  people  about  it  who  have  come  in  the  hope  of  receiving 
miraculous  cures  ;  still  another  at  f.  100  v.,  with  pilgrims  praying  round  it. 
At  f.  109  a  shrine,  with  two  monks  in  a  stall  beside  it  saying  an  office,  a 
clerk  and  others  present  At  f.  10  v.  a  shrine  with  a  group  of  monks. 
Other  representations  of  shrines  (all  no  doubt  intended  to  represent  the 
one  shrine  of  St.  Edmund,  but  differing  in  details)  are  to  be  found  at 
f.  108  v.,  117,  &c.  In  the  MS.  Roman  "  D' Alexandre,"  of  the  latter  half  of 
the  fourteenth  century,  in  the  Bodleian  Library,  at  f.  2,660,  is  a  very  good 
representation  of  the  shrine  of  St.  Thomas  the  Apostle,  with  several  people 
about  it,  and  in  front  are  two  pilgrims  in  rough  habits,  a  broad  hat  slung 
over  the  shoulder,  and  a  staff. 

We  have  hitherto  spoken  of  male  pilgrims ;  but  it  must  be  borne  in 

1 88 

The  Pilgrims  of  the  Middle  Ages, 

mind  that  women  of  all  ranks  were  frequently  to  be  found  on  pilgrimage  ;  * 
and  all  that  has  been  said  of  the  costume  and  habits  of  the  one  sex  applies 

ye*-      -t- — 'SJOf-  "ft 

Female  Pilgrim.  (Strutt,  pi.  134.) 
equally  to  the  other.  We  give  here  a  cut  of  a  female  pilgrim  with  scrip, 
staff,  and  hat,  from  PI.  134  of  Strutt's  "Dresses  and  Habits  of  the  People 
of  England,"  who  professes  to  take  it  from  the  Harleian 
MS.  621.  We  also  give  a  picture  of  a  pilgrim  monk  (Cotton. 
MS.  Tiberius,  A.  7.)  who  bears  the  staff  and  scrip,  but  is 
otherwise  habited  in  the  proper  costume  of  his  order. 

When  the  pilgrim  had  returned  safely  home,  it  was  but 
natural  and  proper  that  as  he  had  been  sent  forth  with  the 
blessing  and  prayers  of  the  church,  he  should  present  him- 
self again  in  church  to  give  thanks  for  the  accomplishment 
of  his  pilgrimage  and  his  safe  return.  We  do  not  find  in 
the  service-books — as  we  might  have  expected — any  special 
service  for  this  occasion,  but  we  find  sufficient  indications 
that  it  was  the  practice.  Knighton  tells  us,  for  example.. 
Pilgrim  Monk.  0f  the  famous  Guy,  Earl  of  Warwick,  that  on  his  return 

*  Of  Chaucer's  Wife  of  Bath  we  read  : — 

"  Thrice  had  she  been  at  Jerusalem, 
And  hadde"  passed  many  a  strange  stream ; 
At  Rome  she  hadde  been,  and  at  Boloyne, 
la  Galice,  at  bt.  James,  and  at  Coloyu  •.-..  ' 

The  Return  from  Pilgrimage. 

1 89 

from  his  pilgrimage  to  the  Holy  Land,  before  he  took  any  refreshment, 
he  went  to  all  the  churches  in  the  city  to  return  thanks.  Du  Cange 
tells  us  that  palmers  were  received  on  their  return  home  with  eccle- 
siastical processions ;  but  perhaps  this  was  only  in  the  case  of  men  of 
some  social  importance.  We  have  the  details  of  one  such  occasion  on 
record:*  William  de  Mandeville,  Earl  of  Essex,  assumed  the  cross,  and 
after  procuring  suitable  necessaries,  took  with  him  a  retinue,  and  among 
them  a  chaplain  to  perform  divine  offices,  for  all  of  whom  he  kept  a  daily 

From  "  Le  Pelerinage  de  la  Vie  Humaine  "  (French  National  Library). 

table.  Before  he  set  out  he  went  to  Gilbert,  Bishop  of  London,  for  his 
license  and  benediction.  He  travelled  by  land  as  far  as  Rome,  over 
France,  Burgundy,  and  the  Alps,  leaving  his  horse  at  Mantua.  He  visited 
every  holy  place  in  Jerusalem  and  on  his  route ;  made  his  prayers  and 
offerings  at  each  ;  and  so  returned.  Upon  his  arrival,  he  made  presents 
of  silk  cloths  to  all  the  churches  of  his  see,  for  copes  or  coverings  of  the 
altars.  The  monks  of  Walden  met  him  in  procession,  in  albes  and  copes, 
singing,  "  Blessed  is  he  who  cometh  in  the  name  of  the  Lord  ;  "  and  the 

•  Dugdale's  "  Monasticoc ." 

i  go  The  Pilgrims  of  the  Middle  Ages, 

earl  coming  to  the  high-altar,  and  there  prostrating  himself,  the  prior  gave 
him  the  benediction.  After  this  he  rose,  and  kneeling,  offered  some  pre- 
cious relics  in  an  ivory  box,  which  he  had  obtained  in  Jerusalem  and 
elsewhere.  This  offering  concluded,  he  rose,  and  stood  before  the  altar; 
the  prior  and  convent  singing  the  Te  Deum.  Leaving  the  church  he  went 
to  the  chapter,  to  give  and  receive  the  kiss  of  peace  from  the  prior  and 
monks.  A  sumptuous  entertainment  followed  for  himself  and  his  suite; 
and  the  succeeding  days  were  passed  in  visits  to  relatives  and  friends,  who 
congratulated  him  on  his  safe  return. 

Du  Cange  says  that  palmers  used  to  present  their  scrips  and  staves  to 
their  parish  churches.  And  Coryatt  *  says  that  he  saw  cockle  and  mussel 
shells,  and  beads,  and  other  religious  relics,  hung  up  over  the  door  of  a 
little  chapel  in  a  nunnery,  which,  says  Fosbroke,  were  offerings  made  by 
pilgrims  on  their  return  from  Compostella. 

The  illuminated  MS.,  Julius  E.  VI.,  illustrates,  among  other  events  of 
the  life  of  Richard  Beauchamp,  Earl  of  Warwick,  various  scenes  of  his 
pilgrimage  to  Rome  and  to  Jerusalem.  In  an  illumination  (subsequently 
engraved  in  the  chapter  on  Merchants)  he  is  seen  embarking  in  his  own 
ship ;  in  another,  he  is  presented  to  the  Pope  and  cardinals  at  Rome  + 
(subsequently  engraved  in  the  chapter  on  Secular  Clergy);  in  another, 
he  is  worshipping  at  the  Holy  Sepulchre,  where  he  hung  up  his  shield 
in  remembrance  of  his  accomplished  vow. 

The  additional  MS.  24,189,  is  part  of  St.  John  Mandeville's  history  of 
his  travels,  and  its  illuminations  in  some  respects  illustrate  the  voyage  of 
a  pilgrim  of  rank. 

Hans  Burgmaier's  "  Images  de  Saints,"  &c, — from  which  we  take  the 
figure  on  the  next  page, — affords  us  a  very  excellent  contemporary  illus- 
tration of  a  pilgrim  of  high  rank,  with  his  attendants,  all  in  pilgrim  costume, 
and  wearing  the  signs  which  show  us  that  their  pilgrimage  has  been 
successfully  accomplished. 

*  "  Crudities,"  p.  18. 

t  In  Lydgate's  "  Life  of  St.  Edmund  "  (Harl.  2,278)  is  a  picture  of  King  Alkmund 
ou  his  pilgrimage,  at  Rome,  receiving  the  Pope's  blessing,  in  which  the  treatment  of  the 
subject  is  very  like  that  of  the  illumination  in  the  text. 

The  Pilgrim' *s  Tomb. 


Those  who  had  taken  any  of  the  greater  pilgrimages  would  probably  be 
regarded  with  a  certain  respect  and  reverence  by  their  untravelled  neigh- 
bours, and  the  agnomen  of  Palmer  or  Pilgrim,  which  would  naturally  be 
added  to  their  Christian  name — as  William  the  Palmer,  or  John  the  Pilgrim 
— is  doubtless  the  origin  of  two  sufficiently  common  surnames.  The 
tokens  of  pilgrimage  sometimes  even  accompanied  a  man  to  his  grave,  and 
were  sculptured  on  his  monument     Shells  have  not  unfrequently  been 

Pilgrim  on  Horseback. 

found  in  stone  coffins,  and  are  taken  with  great  probability  to  be  relics  of 
the  pilgrimage,  which  the  deceased  had  once  taken  to  Compostella,  and 
which  as  sacred  things,  and  having  a  certain  religious  virtue,  were  strewed 
over  him  as  he  was  carried  upon  his  bier  in  the  funeral  procession,  and 
were  placed  with  him  in  his  grave.  For  example,  when  the  grave  of  Bishop 
Mayhew,  who  died  in  15x6,  in  Hereford  Cathedral,  was  opened  some  years 
ago,  there  was  found  lying  by  his  side,  a  common,  rough,  hazel  wand, 
between  four  and  five  feet  long,  and  about  as  thick  as  a  man's  finger ;  and 
rith  it  a  mussel  and  a  few  oyster-shells.     Four  other  instances  of  such 

192  The  Pilgrims  of  the  Middle  Ages, 

hazel  rods,  without  accompanying  shells,  buried  with  ecclesiastics,  had 
previously  been  observed  in  the  same  cathedral.*  The  tomb  of  Abbot 
Cheltenham,  at  Tewkesbury,  has  the  spandrels  ornamented  with  shields 
charged  with  scallop  shells,  and  the  pilgrim  staff  and  scrip  are  sculptured 
on  the  bosses  of  the  groining  of  the  canopy  over  the  tomb.  There  is  a 
gravestone  at  Haltwhistle,  Northumberland,  to  which  we  have  already  more 
than  once  had  occasion  to  refer,f  on  which  is  the  usual  device  of  a  cross 
sculptured  in  relief,  and  on  one  side  of  the  shaft  of  the  cross  are  laid  a 
sword  and  shield,  charged  with  the  arms  of  Blenkinsop,  a  fess  between 
three  garbs,  indicating,  we  presume,  that  the  deceased  was  a  knight ;  on 
the  other  side  of  the  shaft  of  the  cross  are  laid  a  palmer's  staff,  and  a  scrip, 
bearing  also  garbs,  and  indicating  that  the  knight  had  been  a  pilgrim. 

In  the  church  of  Ashby-de-la-Zouch,  Leicestershire,  there  is,  under  a 
monumental  arch  in  the  wall  of  the  north  aisle,  a  recumbent  effigy,  a  good 
deal  defaced,  of  a  man  in  pilgrim  weeds.  A  tunic  or  gown  reaches  half- 
way down  between  the  knee  and  ankle,  and  he  has  short  pointed  laced 
boots  ;  a  hat  with  its  margin  decorated  with  scallop-shells  lies  under  his 
head,  his  scrip  tasselled  and  charged  with  scallop-shells  is  at  his  right  side, 
and  his  rosary  on  his  left,  and  his  staff  is  laid  diagonally  across  the  body. 
The  costly  style  of  the  monument,  J  the  lion  at  his  feet,  and  above  all  a 
collar  of  SS.  round  his  neck,  prove  that  the  person  thus  commemorated 
was  a  person  of  distinction. 

In  the  churchyard  of  Llanfihangel-Aber-Cowen,  Carmarthenshire,  there 
are  three  graves,  §  which  are  assigned  by  the  local  tradition  to  three  holy 

*  The  shells  indicate  a  pilgrimage  accomplished,  but  the  rod  may  not  have  been 
intended  to  represent  the  pilgrim's  bourdon.  In  the  Harl.  MS.  5,102,  fol.  68,  a  MS.  of 
the  beginning  of  the  thirteenth  century,  is  a  bishop  holding  a  slender  rod  (not  a  pastoral 
staff),  and  at  fol.  17  of  the  same  MS.  one  is  putting  a  similar  rod  into  a  bishop's  coffin. 
The  priors  of  small  cathedrals  bore  a  staff  without  crook,  and  had  the  privilege  of  being 
arrayed  in  pontificals  for  mass ;  choir-rulers  often  bore  staves.  Dr.  Rock,  in  the  "  Church 
of  our  Fathers,"  vol.  hi.,  pt.  11,  p.  224,  gives  a  cut  from  a  late  Flemish  Book  of  Hours, 
in  which  a  priest,  sitting  at  confession,  bears  a  long  rod. 

t  It  is  engraved  in  Mr.  Boutell's  "Christian  Monuments  in  England  and  Wales,"  p.  79. 

J  Engraved  in  Nichols's  "Leicestershire,"  vol.  hi.,  pi.  ii.,  p.  623. 

§  Engraved  in  the  "  Manual  of  Sepulchral  Slabs  and  Crosses,"  by  the  Rev.  E.  L. 
Cults,  pi.  lxxiii. 

The  Pilgrim's  Tomb.  193 

palmers,  "  who  wandered  thither  in  poverty  and  distress,  and  being  about 
to  perish  for  want,  slew  each  other :  the  last  survivor  buried  his  fellows 
and  then  himself  in  one  of  the  graves  which  they  had  prepared,  and  pulling 
the  stone  over  him,  left  it,  as  it  is,  ill  adjusted."  Two  of  the  headstones 
have  very  rude  demi-effigies,  with  a  cross  patee  sculptured  upon  them.  In 
one  of  the  graves  were  found,  some  years  ago,  the  bones  of  a  female  or 
youth,  and  half-a-dozen  scallop-shells.  There  are  also,  among  the  curious 
symbols  which  appear  on  mediaeval  coffin-stones,  some  which  are  verj 
likely  intended  for  pilgrim  staves.  There  is  one  at  Woodhorn,  Northum- 
berland, engraved  in  the  "  Manual  of  Sepulchral  Slabs  and  Crosses,"  and 
another  at  Alnwick-le-Street,  Yorkshire,  is  engraved  in  Gough's  "  Sepulchral 
Monuments,"  vol.  i.  It  may  be  that  these  were  men  who  had  made  a 
vow  of  perpetual  pilgrimage,  or  who  died  in  the  midst  of  an  unfinished 
pilgrimage,  and  therefore  the  pilgrim  insignia  were  placed  upon  their 
monuments.  If  every  man  and  woman  who  had  made  a  pilgrimage  had 
had  its  badges  carved  upon  their  tombs,  we  should  surely  have  found 
many  other  tombs  thus  designated ;  but,  indeed,  we  have  the  tombs  ot 
men  who  we  know  had  accomplished  pilgrimages  to  Jerusalem,  but  have 
no  pilgrim  insignia  upon  their  tombs. 

Other  illustrations  of  pilgrim  costume  may  be  found  scattered  throughout 
the  illuminated  MSS.  References  to  some  of  the  best  of  them  are  here 
added.  In  the  Royal,  1,696,  at  f.  163,  is  a  good  drawing  of  St  James  as 
a  pilgrim.  In  the  Add.  MS.  17,687,  at  f.  33,  another  of  the  pilgrim  saints 
with  scrip  and  staff;  in  the  MS.  Nero  E  2,  a  half-length  of  the  saint  with 
a  scallop-shell  in  his  hat;  in  the  MS.  18,143,  of  early  sixteenth-century 
date,  at  f.  57  v.,  another.  In  Lydgate's  "  History  of  St.  Edmund,"  already 
quoted  for  its  pictures  of  shrines,  there  are  also  several  good  pictures  of 
pilgrims.  On  f.  79  is  a  group  of  three  pilgrims,  who  appear  again  in  dif- 
ferent parts  of  the  history,  twice  on  page  80,  and  again  at  84  and  85.  At 
f.  81  the  three  pilgrims  have  built  themselves  a  hermitage  and  chapel,  sur- 
rounded by  a  fence  of  wicker-work.  In  Henry  VII.'s  chapel,  Westminster, 
the  figure  of  a  pilgrim  is  frequently  introduced  in  the  ornamental  sculp- 
ture of  the  side  chapels  and  on  the  reredos,  in  allusion,  no  doubt,  to  the 
pilgrims  who  figure  in  the  legendary  history  of  St.  Edmund  the  Confessor. 


194  The  Pilgrims  of  the  Middle  Ages. 

Having  followed  the  pilgrim  to  his  very  tomb,  there  we  pause.  We 
cannot  but  satirise  the  troops  of  mere  religious  holiday-makers,  who  rode  a 
pleasant  summer's  holiday  through  the  green  roads  of  merry  England, 
feasting  at  the  inns,  singing  amorous  songs,  and  telling  loose  stories  by 
the  way ;  going  through  a  round  of  sight-seeing  at  the  end  of  it ;  and 
drinking  foul  water  in  which  a  dead  man's  blood  had  been  mingled,  or  a 
dead  man's  bones  had  been  washed.  But  let  us  be  allowed  to  indulge  the 
hope  that  every  act  of  real,  honest,  self-denial — however  mistaken — in 
remorse  for  sin,  for  the  sake  of  purity,  or  for  the  honour  of  religion,  did 
benefit  the  honest,  though  mistaken  devotee.  Is  our  religion  so  perfect 
and  so  pure,  and  is  our  practice  so  exactly  accordant  with  it,  that  we  can 
afford  to  sit  in  severe  judgment  upon  honest,  self-denying  error? 





HE  present  organisation  of  the  Church  of  England  dates  from 
the  Council  of  Hertford,  a.d.  673.  Before  that  time  the 
Saxon  people  were  the  object  of  missionary  operations,  carried 
on  by  two  independent  bodies,  the  Italian  mission,  having  its  centre 
at  Canterbury,  and  the  Celtic  mission,  in  Iona.  The  bishops  who  had 
been  sent  from  one  or  other  of  these  sources  into  the  several  kingdoms 
of  the  Heptarchy,  gathered  a  body  of  clergy  about  them,  with  whom 
they  lived  in  common  at  the  cathedral  town ;  thence  they  made 
missionary  progresses  through  the  towns  and  villages  of  the  Saxon 
"bush;"  returning  always  to  the  cathedral  as  their  head-quarters  and 
home.  The  national  churches  which  sprang  from  these  two  sources  were 
kept  asunder  by  some  differences  of  discipline  and  ceremonial  rather  than 
of  doctrine.  These  differences  were  reconciled  at  the  Council  of  Hertford, 
and  all  the  churches  there  and  then  recognised  Theodore,  Archbishop  of 
Canterbury,  as  the  Metropolitan  of  all  England. 

To  the  same  archbishop  we  owe  the  establishment  of  the  parochial 
organisation  of  the  Church  of  England,  which  has  ever  since  continued. 

196  The  Secular  Clergy  of  the  Middle  Ages, 

He  pointed  out  to  the  people  the  advantage  of  having  the  constant  minis- 
trations of  a  regular  pastor,  instead  of  the  occasional  visits  of  a  missionary. 
He  encouraged  the  thanes  to  provide  a  dwelling-house  and  a  parcel  of 
glebe  for  the  clergyman's  residence ;  and  permitted  that  the  tithe  of  each 
manor — which  the  thane  had  hitherto  paid  into  the  common  church-fund 
of  the  bishop — should  henceforth  be  paid  to  the  resident  pastor,  for  his 
own  maintenance  and  the  support  of  his  local  hospitalities  and  charities  \ 
and  lastly,  he  permitted  each  thane  to  select  the  pastor  for  his  own  manor 
out  of  the  general  body  of  the  clergy.  Thus  naturally  grew  the  whole 
establishment  of  the  Church  of  England;  thus  each  kingdom  of  the 
Heptarchy  became,  in  ecclesiastical  language,  a  diocese,  each  manor  a 
parish;  and  thus  the  patronage  of  the  benefices  of  England  became 
vested  in  the  lords  of  the  manors. 

At  the  same  time  that  a  rector  was  thus  gradually  settled  in  every 
parish,  with  rights  and  duties  which  soon  became  defined,  and  sanctioned 
by  law,  the  bishop  continued  to  keep  a  body  of  clergy  about  him  in  the 
cathedral,  whose  position  also  gradually  became  defined  and  settled.  The 
number  of  clergy  in  the  cathedral  establishment  became  settled,  and 
they  acquired  the  name  of  canons;  they  were  organised  into  a  colle- 
giate body,  with  a  dean  and  other  officers.  The  estates  of  the  bishops 
were  distinguished  from  those  of  the  body  of  canons.  Each  canon  had 
his  own  house  within  the  walled  space  about  the  cathedral,  which  was 
called  the  Close,  and  a  share  in  the  common  property  of  the  Chapter. 
Besides  the  canons,  thus  limited  in  number,  there  gradually  arose  a 
necessity  for  other  clergymen  to  fulfil  the  various  duties  of  a  cathedral. 
These  received  stipends,  and  lodged  where  they  could  in  the  town ;  but  in 
time  these  additional  clergy  also  were  organised  into  a  corporation,  and 
generally  some  benefactor  was  found  to  build  them  a  quadrangle  of  little 
houses  within,  or  hard  by,  the  Close,  and  often  to  endow  their  corporation 
with  lands  and  livings.  The  Vicars'  Close  at  Wells  is  a  very  good  and 
well-known  example  of  these  supplementary  establishments.  It  is  a  long 
quadrangle,  with  little  houses  on  each  side,  a  hall  at  one  end,  and  a  library 
at  the  other,  and  a  direct  communication  with  the  cathedral.  There  also 
arose  in  process  of  time  many  collegiate  churches  in  the  kingdom,  which, 

Cathedral  Clergy, 


resembled  the  cathedral  establishments  of  secular  canons  in  every  respect, 
except  that  no  bishop  had  his  see  within  their  church.  Some  of  the 
churches  of  these  colleges  of  secular  canons  were  architecturally  equal  to 
the  cathedrals.  Southwell  Minster,  for  example,  is  not  even  equalled  by 
many  of  the  cathedral  churches.  It  would  occupy  too  much  space  to  enter 
into  any  details  of  the  constitution  of  these  establishments. 

These  canons   may  usually  be   recognised   in   pictures   by   their  cos- 

tume. The  most  characteristic  features  were  the  square  cap  and  the  furred 
amys.  The  amys  was  a  fur  cape  worn  over  the  shoulders,  with  a  hood 
attached,  and  usually  has  a  fringe  of  the  tails  of  the  fur  or  sometimes  of 
little  bells,  and  two  long  ends  in  front.  In  the  accompanying  very  beau- 
tiful woodcut  we  have  a  semi-choir  of  secular  canons,  seated  in  their  stalls 
in  the  cathedral,  with  the  bishop  in  his  stall  at  the  west  end.  They  are 
habited  in  surplices,  ornamented  with  needlework,  beneath  which  may  be 

198  The  Secular  Clergy  of  the  Middle  Ages. 

seen  their  robes,  some  pink,  some  blue  in  colour.*  One  in  the  sub- 
sellse  seems  to  have  his  furred  amys  thrown  over  the  arm  of  his  stall ;  his 
right-hand  neighbour  seems  to  have  his  hanging  over  his  shoulder.  He, 
and  one  in  the  upper  stalls,  have  round  skull  caps  (birettas);  others 
have  the  hood  on  their  heads,  where  it  assumes  a  horned  shape,  which 
may  be  seen  in  other  pictures  of  canons.  The  woodcut  is  part  of  a  full- 
page  illumination  of  the  interior  of  a  church,  in  the  Book  of  Hours  of 
Richard  II.,  in  the  British  Museum  (Domit.  xvii.). 

These  powerful  ecclesiastical  establishments  continued  to  flourish 
throughout  the  Middle  Ages ;  their  histories  must  be  sought  in  Dugdale's 
"  Monasticon,"  or  Britton's  or  Murray's  "  Cathedrals,"  or  the  monographs 
of  the  several  cathedrals.  In  the  registers  of  the  cathedrals  there  exists 
also  a  vast  amount  of  unpublished  matter,  which  would  supply  all  the 
little  life-like  details  that  historians  usually  pass  by,  but  which  we  need 
to  enable  us  really  to  enter  into  the  cathedral  life  of  the  Middle  Ages. 
The  world  is  indebted  to  Mr.  Raine  for  the  publication  of  some  such 
details  from  the  registry  of  York,  in  the  very  interesting  "  York  Fabric 
Rolls,"  which  he  edited  for  the  Surtees  Society. 

To  return  to  the  Saxon  rectors.  By  the  end  of  the  Saxon  period  of  our 
history  we  find  the  whole  kingdom  divided  into  parishes,  and  in  each  a 
rector  resident.  Probably  the  rectors  were  often  related  to  the  lords  of  the 
manors,  as  is  natural  in  the  case  of  family  livings ;  they  were  not  a  learned 
clergy ;  speaking  generally  they  were  a  married  clergy ;  in  other  respects, 
too,  they  did  not  affect  the  ascetic  spirit  of  monasticism ;  they  ate  and 
drank  like  other  people ;  farmed  their  own  glebes ;  spent  a  good  deal  of 
their  leisure  in  hawking  and  hunting,  like  their  brothers,  and  cousins,  and 
neighbours ;  but  all  their  interests  were  in  the  people  and  things  of  their 
own  parishes ;  they  seem  to  have  performed  their  clerical  functions  fairly 
well ;  and  they  were  bountiful  to  the  poor ;  in  short,  they  seem  to  have 
had  the  virtues  and  failings  of  the  country  rectors  of  a  hundred  years  ago. 

After  the  Norman  conquest  several  causes  concurred  to  deprive  a  large 

*  It  will  be  shown  hereafter  that  secular  priests  ordinarily  wore  dresses  of  these  gay 
.•olours,  all  the  ecclesiastical  canons  to  the  contrary  notwithstanding. 

Impropriation.  199 

majority  of  the  parishes  of  the  advantage  of  the  cure  of  well-born,  well- 
endowed  rectors,  and  to  supply  their  places  by  ill-paid  vicars  and  parochial 
chaplains.  First  among  these  causes  we  may  mention  the  evil  of  impropria- 
tions, from  which  so  many  of  our  parishes  are  yet  suffering,  and  of  which  this 
is  a  brief  explanation.  Just  before  the  Norman  conquest  there  was  a  great 
revival  of  the  monastic  principle ;  several  new  orders  of  monks  had  been 
founded  ;  and  the  religious  feeling  of  the  age  set  in  strongly  in  favour  of  these 
religious  communities  which  then,  at  least,  were  learned,  industrious,  and  self- 
denying.  The  Normans  founded  many  new  monasteries  in  England,  and  not 
only  endowed  them  with  lands  and  manors,  but  introduced  the  custom  of 
endowing  them  also  with  the  rectories  of  which  they  were  patrons.  They 
gave  the  benefice  to  the  convent,  and  the  convent,  as  a  religious  corporation, 
took  upon  itself  the  office  of  rector,  and  provided  a  vicar  to  perform  the 
spiritual  duties  of  the  cure.  The  apportionment  of  the  temporalities  of 
the  benefice  usually  was,  that  the  convent  took  the  great  tithe,  which 
formed  the  far  larger  portion  of  the  benefice,  and  gave  the  vicar  the  small 
tithe,  and  (if  it  were  not  too  large)  the  rectory-house  and  glebe  for  his 
maintenance.  The  position  of  a  poor  vicar,  it  is  easy  to  see,  was  very 
different  in  dignity  and  emolument,  and  in  prestige  in  the  eyes  of  his 
parishioners,  and  the  means  of  conferring  temporal  benefits  upon  them, 
from  that  of  the  old  rectors  his  predecessors  in  the  cure.  By  the  time 
of  the  Reformation,  about  half  of  the  livings  of  England  and  Wales  had 
thus  become  impropriate  to  monasteries,  cathedral  chapters,  corporations, 
guilds,  &c. ;  and  since  the  great  tithe  was  not  restored  to  the  parishes  at 
the  dissolution  of  the  religious  houses,  but  granted  to  laymen  together 
with  the  abbey-lands,  about  half  the  parishes  of  England  are  still  suffering 
from  this  perversion  of  the  ancient  Saxon  endowments. 

Another  cause  of  the  change  in  the  condition  of  the  parochial  clergy 
was  the  custom  of  papal  provisors.  The  popes,  in  the  thirteenth  century, 
gradually  assumed  a  power  of  nominating  to  vacant  benefices.  Gregory  IX. 
and  Innocent  TV.,  who  ruled  the  church  in  the  middle  of  this  century,  are 
said  to  have  presented  Italian  priests  to  all  the  best  benefices  in  England. 
Many  of  these  foreigners,  having  preferment  in  their  own  country,  never 
came  near  their  cures,  but  employed  parish  chaplains  to  fulfil  their  duties, 

200  The  Secular  Clergy  of  the  Middle  Ages* 

and  sometimes  neglected  to  do  even  that.  Edward  III.  resisted  this  inva- 
sion of  the  rights  of  the  patrons  of  English  livings,  and  in  the  time  of 
Richard  II.  it  was  finally  stopped  by  the  famous  statute  of  Praemunire 
(a.d.  1392). 

The  custom  of  allowing  one  man  to  hold  several  livings  was  another 
means  of  depriving  parishes  of  a  resident  rector,  and  handing  them  over  to 
the  care  of  a  curate.  The  extent  to  which  this  system  of  Pluralities 
was  carried  in  the  Middle  Ages  seems  almost  incredible ;  we  even  read 
of  one  man  having  from  four  to  five  hundred  benefices. 

Another  less  known  abuse  was  the  custom  of  presenting  to  benefices 
men  who  had  taken  only  the  minor  clerical  orders.  A  glance  at  the  lists 
of  incumbents  of  benefices  in  any  good  county  history  will  reveal  the  fact 
that  rectors  of  parishes  were  often  only  deacons,  sub-deacons,  or  acolytes.* 
It  is  clear  that  in  many  of  these  cases — probably  in  the  majority  of  them — 
the  men  had  taken  a  minor  order  only  to  qualify  themselves  for  holding 
the  temporalities  of  a  benefice,  and  never  proceeded  to  the  priesthood  at 
all ;  they  employed  a  chaplain  to  perform  their  spiritual  functions  for  them, 
while  they  enjoyed  the  fruits  of  the  benefice  as  if  it  were  a  lay  fee,  the 
minor  order  which  they  had  taken  imposing  no  restraint  upon  their  living 
an  entirely  secular  life.t     It  is  clear  that  a  considerable  number  of  priests 

*  Here  is  a  good  example  from  Baker's  "  Northamptonshire :  " — "  Broughton 
Rectory:  Richard  Meyreul,  sub-deacon,  presented  in  1243.  Peter  de  Vieleston,  deacon, 
presented  in  1346-7.  Though  still  only  a  deacon,  he  had  previously  been  rector  of 
Cottisbrook  from  1342  to  1345." 

Matthew  Paris  tells  us  that,  in  1252,  the  beneficed  clergy  in  the  diocese  of  Lincoln 
were  urgently  persuaded  and  admonished  by  their  bishop  to  allow  themselves  to  be 
promoted  to  the  grade  of  priesthood,  but  many  of  them  refused. 

The  thirteenth  Constitution  of  the  second  General  Council  of  Lyons,  held  in  1274, 
ordered  curates  to  reside  and  to  take  priests'  orders  within  a  year  of  their  promotion  ;  the 
lists  above  quoted  show  how  inoperative  was  this  attempt  to  remedy  the  practice  against 
which  it  was  directed. 

t  A  writer  in  the  CJwistian  Remembrancer  for  July,  1856,  says  : — "During  the  four- 
teenth century  it  would  seem  that  half  the  number  of  rectories  throughout  England  were 
held  by  acolytes  unable  to  administer  the  sacrament  of  the  altar,  to  hear  confessions,  or 
even  to  baptise.     Presented  to  a  benefice  often  before  of  age  to  be  ordained,  the  rector 

preferred  to  marry  and  to  remain  a  layman,  or  at  best  a  clerk  in  minor  orders In 

short,  during  the  time  to  which  we  refer,  rectories  were  looked  upon  and  treated  as  lay 

Parish  Chaplains.  201 

were  required  to  perform  the  duties  of  the  numerous  parishes  whose 
rectors  were  absent  or  in  minor  orders,  who  seem  to  have  been  called 
parochial  chaplains.  The  emolument  and  social  position  of  these  paro- 
chial chaplains  were  not  such  as  to  make  the  office  a  desirable  one ;  and  it 
would  seem  that  the  candidates  for  it  were,  to  a  great  extent,  drawn  from 
the  lower  classes  of  the  people.  Chaucer  tells  us  of  his  poor  parson  of 
a  town,  whose  description  we  give  below,  that 

"  With  him  there  was  a  ploughman  was  his  brother." 

In  the  Norwich  corporation  records  of  the  time  of  Henry  VIII.  (1521 
a.d.),  there  is  a  copy  of  the  examination  of  "  Sir  William  Green,"  in  whose 
sketch  of  his  own  life,  though  he  was  only  a  pretended  priest,  we  have  a 
curious  history  of  the  way  in  which  many  a  poor  man's  son  did  really 
attain  the  priesthood.  He  was  the  son  of  a  labouring  man,  learned  gram- 
mar at  the  village  grammar  school  for  two  years,  and  then  went  to  day 
labour  with  his  father.  Afterwards  removing  to  Boston,  he  lived  with  his 
aunt,  partly  labouring  for  his  living,  and  going  to  school  as  he  had  oppor- 
tunity. Being  evidently  a  clerkly  lad,  he  was  admitted  to  the  minor 
orders,  up  to  that  of  acolyte,  at  the  hands  of  "  Friar  Graunt,"  who  was  a 
suffragan  bishop  in  the  diocese  of  Lincoln.  After  that  he  went  to  Cam 
bridge,  where,  as  at  Boston,  he  partly  earned  a  livelihood  by  his  labour, 
and  partly  availed  himself  of  the  opportunities  of  learning  which  the  uni- 
versity offered,  getting  his  meat  and  drink  of  alms.  At  length,  having  an 
opportunity  of  going  to  Rome,  with  two  monks  of  Whitby  Abbey  (perhaps 
in  the  capacity  of  attendant,  one  Edward  Prentis  being  of  the  company, 
who  was,  perhaps,  his  fellow-servant  to  the  two  monks),  he  there  en- 
deavoured to  obtain  the  order  of  the  priesthood,  which  seems  to  have 
been  conferred  rather  indiscriminately  at  Rome,  and  without  a  "  title  ; " 
but  in  this  he  was  unsuccessful.  After  his  return  to  England  he  laboured 
for  his  living,  first  with  his  brother  in  Essex,  then  at  Cambridge,  then  at 
Boston,  then  in  London.  At  last  he  went  to  Cambridge  again,  and,  by  the 
influence  of  Mr.  Coney,  obtained  of  the  Vice-Chancellor  a  licence  under 
seal  to  collect  subscriptions  for  one  year  towards  an  exhibition  to  complete 

202  The  Secular  Clergy  of  the  Middle  Ages. 

his  education  in  the  schools,  as  was  often  done  by  poor  scholars.*  Had 
he  obtained  money  enough,  completed  his  education,  and  obtained  ordi- 
nation in  due  course,  it  would  have  completed  the  story  in  a  regular 
way.  But  here  he  fell  into  bad  hands,  forged  first  a  new  poor  scholar's 
licence,  and  then  letters  of  orders,  and  then  wandered  about  begging  alms 
as  an  unfortunate,  destitute  priest ;  he  may  furnish  us  with  a  type  of  the 
idle  and  vagabond  priests,  of  whom  there  were  only  too  many  in  the 
country,  and  of  whom  Sir  Thomas  More  says,  "  the  order  is  rebuked  by 
the  priests'  begging  and  lewd  living,  which  either  is  fain  to  walk  at  rovers 
and  live  upon  trentals  (thirty  days'  masses),  or  worse,  or  to  serve  in  a 
secular  man's  house."!  The  original  of  this  sketch  is  given  at  length  in 
the  note  below.  \ 

*  See  Chaucer's  poor  scholar,  hereinafter  quoted,  who — 

"  busily  gan  for  the  soulis  pray 
Of  them  that  gave  him  wherewith  to  scholaie." 

t  "  Dialogue  on  Heresies,"  book  iii.  c.  12. 

X  "  Norwich  Corporation  Records."  Sessions  Book  of  12th  Henry  VII.  Memorand. — 
That  on  Thursday,  Holyrood  Eve,  in  the  xijth  of  King  Henry  the  VIIJ.,  Sir  William 
Grene,  being  accused  of  being  a  spy,  was  examined  before  the  mayor's  deputy  and 
others,  and  gave  the  following  account  of  himself : — "  The  same  Sir  William  saieth  that 
he  was  borne  in  Boston,  in  the  countie  of  Lincoln,  and  about  xviij  yeres  nowe  paste  or 
there  about,  he  dwellyd  with  Stephen  'at  Grene,  his  father  at  Wantlet,  in  the  saide 
countie  of  Lincolne,  and  lerned  gramer  by  the  space  of  ij  yeres ;  after  that  by  v  or  vj 
yeres  used  labour  with  his  said  father,  sometyme  in  husbandrie  and  other  wiles  with  the 
longe  sawe ;  and  after  that  dwelling  in  Boston  at  one  Genet  a  Grene,  his  aunte,  used 
labour  and  other  wiles  goyng  to  scole  by  the  space  of  ij  years,  and  in  that  time  receyved 
benet  and  accolet  [the  first  tonsure  and  acolytate]  in  the  freres  Austens  in  Boston  of  one 
frere  Graunt,  then  beying  suffragan  of  the  diocese  of  Lincoln  ["Frere  Graunt"  was 
William  Grant,  titular  Bishop  of  Pavada,  in  the  province  of  Constantinople.  He  was  Vicar 
of  Redgewell,  in  Essex,  and  Suffragan  of  Ely,  from  1516  to  1525. — Stubbs's  Registrum 
Sacrum  Anglicanum]  ;  after  that  dwelling  within  Boston  wt.  one  Mr.  Williamson, 
merchaunt,  half  a  yere,  and  after  that  dwellinge  in  Cambridge  by  the  space  of  half  a  yere, 
used  labour  by  the  day  beryng  of  ale  and  pekynge  of  saffron,  and  sometyme  going  to  the 
colleges,  and  gate  his  mete  and  drynke  of  almes  ;  and  aft  that  the  same  Sir  William,  with 
ij  monks  of  Whitby  Abbey,  and  one  Edward  Prentis,  went  to  Rome,  to  thentent  for  to 
have  ben  made  p'st,  to  which  order  he  could  not  be  admitted  ;  and  after  abiding  in 
Larkington,  in  the  countie  of  Essex,  used  labour  for  his  levyng  wt.  one  Thorn.  Grene  his 
broder ;  and  after  that  the  same  Sr.  Will,  cam  to  Cambridge,  and  ther  teried  iiij  or  v 
wekes,  and  gate  his  levynge  of  almes ;  and  after,  dwelling  in  Boston,  agen  laboured 
with  dyvs  persones  by  vij  or  viij  wekes  ;  and  after  that  dwelling  in  London,  in  Holborn, 

Parish  Chaplains,  203 

This  custom  of  poor  scholars  gaining  their  livelihood  and  the  means  of 
prosecuting  their  studies  by  seeking  alms  was  very  common.  It  should  be 
noticed  here  that  the  Church  in  the  Middle  Ages  was  the  chief  ladder  by 
which  men  of  the  lower  ranks  were  able  to  climb  up — and  vast  numbers 
did  climb  up — into  the  upper  ranks  of  society,  to  be  clergymen,  and  monks, 
and  abbots,  and  bishops,  statesmen,  and  popes.  Piers  Ploughman,  in  a 
very  illiberal  strain,  makes  it  a  subject  of  reproach — 

"  Now  might  each  sowter  •  his  son  setten  to  schole, 
And  each  beggar's  brat  in  the  book  leame, 
And  worth  to  a  writer  and  with  a  lorde  dwelle, 
Or  falsly  to  a  frere  the  fiend  for  to  serven. 
So  of  that  beggar's  brat  a  Bishop  that  worthen, 
Among  the  peers  of  the  land  prese  to  sythen  ; 
And  lordes  sons  lowly  to  the  lorde's  loute, 
Knyghtes  crooketh  hem  to,  and  coucheth  ful  lowe  ; 
And  his  sire  a  sowter  y-soiled  with  grees,t 
His  teeth  with  toyling  of  lether  battered  as  a  sawe." 

with  one  Rickerby,  a  fustian  dyer,  about  iij  wekes,  and  after  that  the  same  William 
resorted  to  Cambridge,  and  ther  met  agen  wt.  the  said  Edward  Prentise  ;  and  at  instance 
and  labour  of  one  Mr.  Cony,  of  Cambridge,  the  same  Will.  Grene  and  Edward  Prentise 
obteyned  a  licence  for  one  year  of  Mr.  Cappes,  than  being  deputee  to  the  Chancellor  of 
the  said  univ'sitie,  under  his  seal  of  office,  wherby  the  same  Will,  and  Edward  gathered 
toguether  in  Cambridgeshire  releaff  toward  their  exhibicon  to  scole  by  the  space  of  viij 
weks,  and  after  that  the  said  Edward  departed  from  the  company  of  the  same  William. 
And  shortly  after  that,  one  Robert  Draper,  scoler,  borne  at  Feltham,  in  the  countee  of 
Lincoln,  accompanyed  wt.  the  same  Willm.,  and  they  forged  and  made  a  newe  licence, 
and  putte  therin  ther  bothe  names,  and  the  same  sealed  wt.  the  seale  of  the  other  licence 
granted  to  the  same  Will,  and  Edward  as  is  aforeseid,  by  which  forged  licence  the  same 
Will,  and  Robt.  gathered  in  Cambridgeshire  and  other  shires.  At  Coventre  the  same 
Will,  and  Robt.  caused  one  Knolles,  a  tynker,  dwelling  in  Coventre,  to  make  for  them  a 
case  of  tynne  mete  for  a  seale  of  a  title  which  the  same  Robt.  Draper  holdde  of  Makby 
Abbey.  And  after  that  the  same  Willm.  and  Robt.  cam  to  Cambridge,  and  ther  met 
wt.  one  Sr.  John  Manthorp,  the  which  hadde  ben  lately  before  at  Rome,  and  ther  was 
made  a  prest ;  and  the  same  Robert  Draper  copied  out  the  bulle  of  orders  of  deken,  sub- 
deken,  and  p'stehod  for  the  same  Willm. ;  and  the  same  Willm.  toke  waxe,  and  leyed 
and  p'st  it  to  the  prynte  of  the  seale  of  the  title  that  the  said  Robert  had  a  Makby  afore- 
seid, and  led  the  same  forged  seale  in  the  casse  of  tynne  aforeseid,  and  with  labels  fastned 
ye  same  to  his  said  forged  bull.  And  sithen  the  same  Willm.  hath  gathered  in  dyvers 
shires,  as  Northampton,  Cambridge,  Suffolk,  and  Norfolk,  alway  shewyng  and  feyning 
hymself  that  he  hadde  ben  at  Rome,  and  ther  was  made  preste,  by  means  whereof  he  hath 
receyved  almes  of  dyvers  and  many  persones." — Norfolk  Archaeology,  vol.  iv.  p.  342. 
*  Cobbler.  f  Grease. 

204  The  Secular  Clergy  of  the  Middle  Ages. 

The  Church  was  the  great  protector  and  friend  of  the  lower  classes  of 
society,  and  that  on  the  highest  grounds.  In  this  very  matter  of  educating 
the  children  of  the  poor,  and  opening  to  such  as  were  specially  gifted 
a  suitable  career,  we  find  so  late  as  the  date  of  the  Reformation,  Cranmer 
maintaining  the  rights  of  the  poor  on  high  grounds.  For  among  the 
Royal  Commissioners  for  reorganising  the  cathedral  establishment  at  Can- 
terbury "  were  more  than  one  or  two  who  would  have  none  admitted  to 
the  Grammar  School  but  sons  or  younger  brothers  of  gentlemen.  As  for 
others,  husbandmen's  children,  they  were  more  used,  they  said,  for  the 
plough  and  to  be  artificers  than  to  occupy  the  place  of  the  learned  sort. 
Whereto  the  Archbishop  said  that  poor  men's  children  are  many  times 
endowed  with  more  singular  gifts  of  nature,  which  are  also  the  gifts  of  God, 
as  eloquence,  memory,  apt  pronunciation,  sobriety,  and  such  like ;  and 
also  commonly  more  apt  to  study  than  is  the  gentleman's  son,  more  deli- 
cately educated.  Hereunto  it  was,  on  the  other  part,  replied  that  it 
was  for  the  ploughman's  son  to  go  to  plough,  and  the  artificer's  son  to 
apply  to  the  trade  of  his  parent's  vocation  ;  and  the  gentleman's  children 
are  used  to  have  the  knowledge  of  government  and  rule  of  the  common- 
wealth. '  I  grant,'  replied  the  Archbishop,  '  much  of  your  meaning 
herein  as  needful  in  a  commonwealth;  but  yet  utterly  to  exclude  the 
ploughman's  son  and  the  poor  man's  son  from  the  benefit  of  learning,  as 
though  they  were  unworthy  to  have  the  gifts  of  the  Holy  Ghost  bestowed 
upon  them  as  well  as  upon  others,  was  much  as  to  say  as  that  Almighty 
God  should  not  be  at  liberty  to  bestow  his  great  gifts  of  grace  upon  any 
person,  but  as  we  and  other  men  shall  appoint  them  to  be  employed 
according  to  our  fancy,  and  not  according  to  his  most  goodly  will  and 
pleasure,  who  giveth  his  gifts  of  learning  and  other  perfections  in  all 
sciences  unto  all  kinds  and  states  of  people  indifferently." 

Besides  the  rectors  and  vicars  of  parishes,  there  was  another  class  of 
beneficed  clergymen  in  the  middle  ages,  who  gradually  became  very 
numerous,  viz.,  the  chantry  priests.  By  the  end  of  the  ante-Reformation 
period  there  was  hardly  a  church  in  the  kingdom  which  had  not  one  or 
more  chantries  founded  in  it,  and  endowed  for  the  perpetual  maintenance 

Chantry  Priests.  205 

of  a  chantry  priest,  to  say  mass  daily  for  ever  for  the  soul's  health  of  the 
founder  and  his  family.  The  churches  of  the  large  and  wealthy  towns  had 
sometimes  ten  or  twelve  such  chantries.  The  chantry  chapel  was  some- 
times built  on  to  the  parish  church,  and  opening  into  it ;  sometimes  it  was 
only  a  corner  of  the  church  screened  off  from  the  rest  of  the  area  by  open- 
work  wooden  screens.  The  chantry  priest  had  sometimes  a  chantry-house 
to  live  in,  and  estates  for  his  maintenance,  sometimes  he  had  only  an  annual 
income,  charged  on  the  estate  of  the  founder.  The  chantries  were  sup- 
pressed, and  their  endowments  confiscated,  in  the  reign  of  Edward  VI.,  but 
the  chantry  chapels  still  remain  as  part  of  our  parish  churches,  and  where 
the  parclose  screens  have  long  since  been  removed,  the  traces  of  the  chantry 
altar  are  still  very  frequently  apparent  to  the  eye  of  the  ecclesiastical  anti- 
quary. Sometimes  more  than  one  priest  was  provided  for  by  wealthy  people. 
Richard  III.  commenced  the  foundation  of  a  chantry  of  one  hundred  chap- 
lains, to  sing  masses  in  the  cathedral  church  of  York ;  the  chantry-house  was 
begun,  and  six  altars  were  erected  in  York  Minster,  when  the  king's  death 
at  Bosworth  Field  interrupted  the  completion  of  the  magnificent  design.* 

We  have  next  to  add  to  our  enumeration  of  the  various  classes  of  the 
mediaeval  clergy  another  class  of  chaplains,  whose  duties  were  very  nearly 
dn  to  those  of  the  chantry  priests.  These  were  the  guild  priests.  It  was 
le  custom  throughout  the  middle  ages  for  men  and  women  to  associate 
lemselves  in  religious  guilds,  partly  for  mutual  assistance  in  temporal 
utters,  but  chiefly  for  mutual  prayers  for  their  welfare  while  living,  and 
>r  their  soul's  health  when  dead.  These  guilds  usually  maintained  a  chap- 
in,  whose  duty  it  was  to  celebrate  mass  daily  for  the  brethren  and  sisters 
)f  the  guild.  These  guild  priests  must  have  been  numerous,  eg.,  we  learn 
rom  Blomfield's  "  Norfolk,"  that  there  were  at  the  Reformation  ten  guilds 
in  Windham  Church,  Norfolk,  seven  at  Hingham,  seven  at  Swaifham, 
seventeen  at  Yarmouth,  &c.  Moreover,  a  guild,  like  a  chantry,  had  some- 
times more  than  one  guild  priest.  Leland  tells  us  the  guild  of  St.  John's, 
in  St  Botolph's  Church,  Boston,  had  ten  priests,  "  living  hi  a  fayre  house 
at  the  west  end  of  the  parish  church  yard."  In  St.  Mary's  Church,  Lich- 
field, was  a  guild  which  had  five  priests.t 

*  York  Fabric  Rolls,  p.  87,  note.  f  "  Church  of  our  Fathers,"  ii.  441. 

206  The  Secular  Clergy  of  the  Middle  Ages. 

The  rules  of  some  of  these  religious  guilds  may  be  found  in  Stow's 
"  Survey  of  London,"  e.g.,  of  St.  Barbara's  guild  in  the  church  of  St.  Kathe- 
rine,  next  the  Tower  of  London  (in  book  ii.  p.  7  of  Hughes's  edition.) 

We  find  bequests  to  the  guild  priests,  in  common  with  other  chaplains, 
in  the  ancient  wills,  eg.,  in  15  41,  Henry  Waller,  of  Richmond,  leaves  "  to 
every  gyld  prest  of  thys  town,  vid.  yt  ar  at  my  beryall."* 

Dr.  Rock  says,f  "Besides  this,  every  guild  priest  had  to  go  on  Sundays 
and  holy  days,  and  help  the  priests  in  the  parochial  services  of  the  church 
in  which  his  guild  kept  their  altar.  All  chantry  priests  were  bidden  by  our 
old  English  canons  to  do  the  same."  The  brotherhood  priest  of  the  guild 
of  the  Holy  Trinity,  at  St.  Botolph's,  in  London,  was  required  to  be  "  meke 
and  obedient  unto  the  qu'er  in  alle  divine  servyces  duryng  hys  time,  as 
custome  is  in  the  citye  amonge  alle  other  p'sts."  Sometimes  a  chantry 
priest  was  specially  required  by  his  foundation  deed  to  help  in  the  cure 
of  souls  in  the  parish,  as  in  the  case  of  a  chantry  founded  in  St.  Mary's, 
Maldon,  and  Little  Bentley,  Essex; J  sometimes  the  chantry  chapel  was 
built  in  a  hamlet  at  a  distance  from  the  parish  church,  and  was  intended  to 
serve  as  a  chapel  of  ease,  and  the  priest  as  an  assistant  curate,  as  at  Foul- 
ness Island  and  Billericay,  both  in  Essex. 

But  it  is  very  doubtful  whether  the  chantry  priests  generally  considered 
themselves  bound  to  take  any  share  in  the  parochial  work  of  the  parish.  § 
In  the  absence  of  any  cure  of  souls,  the  office  of  chantry  or  guild  priest 
was  easy,  and  often  lucrative ;  and  we  find  it  a  common  subject  of 
complaint,  from  the  fourteenth  to  the  sixteenth  centuries,  that  it  was 
preferred  to  a  cure  of  souls;  and  that  even  parochial  incumbents  were 
apt  to  leave  their  parishes  in  the  hands  of  a  parochial  chaplain,  and  seek  for 
themselves  a  chantry  or  guild,  or  one  of  the  temporary  engagements  to 
celebrate  annals,  of  which  there  were  so  many  provided  by  the  wills  of 
which  we  shall  shortly  have  to  speak.  Thus  Chaucer  reckons,  among  the 
virtues  of  his  poore  parson,  that — 

*  Richmond  Wills. 

t  "  Church  of  our  Fathers,"  ii.  408,  note. 

X  Newcourt's  "  Repertorium." 

I  Johnson's  "  Canons,"  ii.  421.     Ang.  Cath.  Lib.  Edition. 

Chantry  Priests.  207 

**  He  set  not  his  benefice  to  hire, 
And  let  his  shepe  accomber  in  the  mire, 
And  runne  to  London  to  Saint  Poule's, 
To  seken  him  a  chauntrie  for  soules, 
Or  with  a  brotherhood  to  be  with-held, 
But  dwelt  at  home,  and  kepte  well  his  fold.'* 

So  also  Piers  Ploughman — 

"  Parsons  and  parisshe  preistes,  pleyned  hem  to  the  bisshope, 
That  hire  parishes  weren  povere  sith  the  pestilence  tyme, 
To  have  a  licence  and  leve  at  London  to  dwelle 
And  syngen  ther  for  symonie,  for  silver  is  swete." 

Besides  the  chantry  priests  and  guild  priests,  there  was  a  great  crowd  of 
priests  who  gained  a  livelihood  by  taking  temporary  engagements  to  say 
masses  for  the  souls  of  the  departed.  Nearly  every  will  of  the  period  we 
are  considering  provides  for  the  saying  of  masses  for  the  soul  of  the 
testator.  Sometimes  it  is  only  by  ordering  a  fee  to  be  paid  to  every  priest 
who  shall  be  present  at  the  funeral,  sometimes  by  ordering  the  executors 
to  have  a  number  of  masses,  varying  from  ten  to  ten  thousand,  said  as 
speedily  as  may  be ;  sometimes  by  directing  that  a  priest  shall  be  engaged 
to  say  mass  for  a  certain  period,  varying  from  thirty  days  to  forty  or 
fifty  years.  These  casual  masses  formed  an  irregular  provision  for  a  large 
number  of  priests,  many  of  whom  performed  no  other  clerical  function, 
and  too  often  led  a  dissolute  as  well  as  an  idle  life.  Archbishop  Islip 
says  in  his  "  Constitutions  :"* — "  We  are  certainly  informed,  by  com- 
mon fame  and  experience,  that  modern  priests,  through  covetousness 
and  love  of  ease,  not  content  with  reasonable  salaries,  demand  excessive 
pay  for  their  labours,  and  receive  it;  and  do  so  despise  labour  and 
study  pleasure,  that  they  wholly  refuse,  as  parish  priests,  to  serve  in 
churches  or  chapels,  or  to  attend  the  cure  of  souls,  though  fitting 
salaries  are  offered  them,  that  they  may  live  in  a  leisurely  manner,  by  cele- 
brating annals  for  the  quick  and  dead  ;  and  so  parish  churches  and  chapels 
remain  unofficiated,  destitute  of  parochial  chaplains,  and  even  proper 
curates,  to  the  grievous  danger  of  souls."  Chaucer  has  introduced  one 
of  this  class  into  the  Canon's  Yeoman's  tale  : — 

•  Johnson's  "  Canons,"  ii.  421. 

208  The  Secular  Clergy  of  the  Middle  Ages. 

"  In  London  was  a  priest,  an  annueller,* 
That  therein  dwelled  hadde  many  a  year, 
Which  was  so  pleasant  and  so  serviceable 
Unto  the  wife  there  as  he  was  at  table 
That  she  would  suffer  him  no  thing  to  pay 
For  board  ne  clothing,  went  he  never  so  gay, 
And  spending  silver  had  he  right  ynoit."  t 

Another  numerous  class  of  the  clergy  were  the  domestic  chaplains. 
Every  nobleman  and  gentleman  had  a  private  chapel  in  his  own  house,, 
and  an  ecclesiastical  establishment  attached,  proportionate  to  his  own 
rank  and  wealth.  In  royal  houses  and  those  of  the  great  nobles,  this 
private  establishment  was  not  unfrequently  a  collegiate  establishment,  with 
a  dean  and  canons,  clerks,  and  singing  men  and  boys,  who  had  their 
church  and  quadrangle  within  the  precincts  of  the  castle,  and  were  main- 
tained by  ample  endowments.  The  establishment  of  the  royal  chapel  of 
St.  George,  in  Windsor  Castle,  is,  perhaps,  the  only  remaining  example. 
The  household  book  of  the  Earl  of  Northumberland  gives  us  very  full 
details  of  his  chapel  establishment,  and  of  their  duties,  and  of  the  emolu- 
ments which  they  received  in  money  and  kind.  They  consisted  of  a  dean, 
who  was  to  be  a  D.D.  or  LL.D.  or  B.D.,  and  ten  other  priests,  and  eleven 
gentlemen  and  six  children,  who  composed  the  choir.  J  But  country  gentle- 

*  One  who  sang  annual  or  yearly  masses  for  the  dead, 
t  Enough. 

%  Chapel  of  Earl  of  Northumberland,  from  the  Household  Book  of  Henry  Algernon, 

fifth  Earl  of  Northumberland,  born  1477,  and  died  1527.    ("Antiq.  Repertory,"  iv.  242.); 

First,  a  preist,  a  doctour  of  divinity,  a  doctor  of  law,  or  a  bachelor  of  divinitie,  to  be 

dean  of  my  lord's  chapell. 
It.  A  preist  for  to  be  surveyour  of  my  lorde's  landes. 
It.  A  preist  for  to  be  secretary  to  my  lorde. 
It.  A  preist  for  to  be  amner  to  my  lorde. 
//.  A  preist  for  to  be  sub-dean  for  ordering  and  keaping  the  queir  in  my  lorde's  chappell 

It   A  preist  for  a  riding  chaplein  for  my  lorde. 

//.  A  preist  for  a  chaplein  for  my  lorde's  eldest  son,  to  waite  uppon  him  daily. 
It.  A  preist  for  my  lorde's  dark  of  the  closet. 
It.  A  preist  for  a  maister  of  gramer  in  my  lorde's  hous. 
It.  A  preist  for  reading  the  (iospell  in  the  chapel  daily. 
It.  A  preist  for  singing  of  our  Ladies'  mass  in  the  chapell  daily. 
The  number  of  these  persons  as  chapleins  and  preists  in  houshould  are  xi.  [The 

Domestic  Chaplai?is.  209 

men   of  wealth  often   maintained   a  considerable   chapel  establishment. 

The  gentlemen  and  children  of  my  lorde's  chappell  which  be  not  appointed  to  attend  at 
no  time,  but  only  in  exercising  of  Godde's  service  in  the  chapell  daily  at  matteins,  Lady- 
mass,  hyhe-mass,  evensong,  and  compeynge  : — 
First,  a  bass. 
//.  A  second  bass. 

Third  bass. 

A  maister  of  the  childer,  or  counter-tenor. 

Second  and  third  counter-tenor. 

A  standing  tenour. 

A  second,  third,  and  fourth  standing  tenour. 
The  number  of  theis  persons,  as  gentlemen  of  my  lorde's  chapell,  xL 

Children  of  my  lorde's  chappell : — 
Three  trebles  and  three  second  trebles. 
In  all  six. 

A  table  of  what  the  Earl  and  Lady  were  accustomed  to  offer  at  mass  on  all  holydayi 
"if   he    keep   chappell,"  of  offering   and   annual  lights   paid  for  at  Holy  Blood    of 
Haillis  (Hales,  in  Gloucestershire),  our  Lady  of  Walsingham,  St.  Margaret  in  Lincoln- 
shire, our  Lady  in  the  Whitefriars,  Doncaster,  of  my  lord's  foundation  : — 
Presents  at  Xmas  to  Bame,  Bishop  of  Beverley  and  York,  when  he  comes,  as  he 

is  accustomed,  yearly. 
Rewards  to  the  children  of  his  chapell  when  they  do  sing  the  responde  called  Exaudivi 

at  the  mattynstime  for  xi.  in  vespers  upon  Allhallow  Day,  6s.  Sd. 
On  St.  Nicholas  Eve,  6j.  Sd. 
To  them  of  his  lordshipe's  chappell  if  they  doe  play  the  play  of  the  Nativitie  upon 

Xmas  Day  in  the  momynge  in  my  lorde's  chapell  before  his  lordship,  xxj. 
For  singing  "Gloria  in  Excelsis  "  at  the  martens  time  upon  Xmas  Day  in  the  mg. 

To  the  Abbot  of  Miserewle  (Misrule)  on  Xmas. 
To  the  yeoman  or  groom  of  the  vestry  for  bringing  him  the  hallowed  taper  on  Candle- 
mas Day. 
To  his  lordship's  chaplains  and  other  servts.  that  play  the  Play  before  his  lordship 

on  Shrofetewsday  at  night,  xxj. 
That  play  the  Play   of  Resurrection  upon  Estur  Daye  in  the   mg.  in  my  lorde's 

chapell  before  his  lordship. 
To  the  yeoman  or  groom  of  the  vestry  on  Allhallows  Day  for  gyngynge  for  all  Cris- 

tynne  soles  the  saide  nyhte  to  it  be  past  mydnyght,  y.  qd. 

The  Earl  and  Lady  were  brother  and  sister  of  St.  Christopher  Gilde  of  Yorke,  and  pd. 

6s.  Sd.  each  yearly,  and  when  the  Master  of  the  Gild  brought  my  lord  and  my 

lady  for  their  lyverays  a  yard  of  narrow  violette  cloth  and  a  yard  of  narrow  rayed 

cloth,  13J.  $d.  (i.e.,  a  yard  of  each  to  each). 
And  to  Procter  of  St.  Robert's  of  Knasbrughe,  when  my  lord  and  lady  were  brother 

and  sister,  6s.  Sd.  each. 

At  pp.  272-278,  is  an  elaborate  programme  of  the  ordering  of  my  lord's  chapel  for 


210  The  Secular  Clergy  of  the  Middle  Ages. 

Henry  Machyn,  in  his  diary,*  tells  us,  in  noticing  the  death  of  Sir  Thomas 
Jarmyn,  of  Rushbrooke  Hall,  Suffolk,  in  1552,  that  "he  was  the  best 
housekeeper  in  the  county  of  Suffolk,  and  kept  a  goodly  chapel  of  sing- 
ing men."  Knights  and  gentlemen  of  less  means,  or  less  love  of  goodly 
singing  men,  were  content  with  a  single  priest  as  chaplain.!  Even  wealthy 
yeomen  and  tradesmen  had  their  domestic  chaplain.  Sir  Thomas  More 
says,}  there  was  "  such  a  rabel  [of  priests],  that  every  mean  man  must 
have  a  priest  in  his  house  to  wait  upon  his  wife,  which  no  man  almost 
lacketh  now."  The  chapels  of  the  great  lords  were  often  sumptuous 
buildings,  erected  within  the  precincts,  of  which  St.  George's,  Windsor, 
and  the  chapel  within  the  Tower  of  London  may  supply  examples.  Smaller 
chapels  erected  within  the  house  were  still  handsome  and  ecclesiastically- 
designed  buildings,  of  which  examples  may  be  found  in  nearly  every  old 
castle  and  manor  house  which  still  exists ;  e.g.,  the  chapel  of  Colchester 
Castle  of  the  twelfth  century,  of  Ormsbro  Castle  of  late  twelfth  century, 
of  Beverstone  Castle  of  the  fourteenth  century,  engraved  in  Parker's 
"Domestic  Architecture,"  III.  p.  177 ;  that  at  Igtham  Castle  of  the 
fifteenth  century,  engraved  in  the  same  work,  III.  p.  173 ;  that  at  Haddon 

the  various  services,  from  which  it  appears  that  there  were  organs,  and  several  of  the  sing- 
ing men  played  them  in  turn. 

At  p.  292  is  an  order  about  the  washing  of  the  linen  for  the  chapel  for  a  year. 
Surplices  washed  sixteen  times  a  year  against  the  great  feasts — eighteen  surplices  for 
men,  and  six  for  children — and  seven  albs  to  be  washed  sixteen  times  a  year,  and  "  five 
aulter-cloths  for  covering  of  the  alters  "  to  be  washed  sixteen  times  a  year. 

Page  285  ordered  that  the  vestry  stuff  shall  have  at  every  removal  (from  house  to 
house)  one  cart  for  the  carrying  the  nine  antiphoners,  the  four  grailles,  the  hangings  of  the 
three  altars  in  the  chapel,  the  surplices,  the  altar-cloths  in  my  lord's  closet  and  my  ladie's, 
and  the  sort  (suit)  of  vestments  and  single  vestments  and  copes  "  accopeed  "  daily,  and  all 
other  my  lord's  chapell  stuff  to  be  sent  afore  my  lord's  chariot  before  his  lordship  remove. 

[Cardinal  Wolsey,  after  the  Earl's  death,  intimated  his  wish  to  have  the  books  of 
the  Earl's  chapel,  which  a  note  speaks  of  as  fine  service  books. — P.  314.] 

*  Edited  by  Mr.  Gough  Nichols  for  the  Camden  Society. 

t  Richard  Burr6,  a  wealthy  yeoman  and  "  ffarmer  of  the  parsonage  of  Sowntyng,  called 
the  Temple,  which  I  holde  of  the  howse  of  St.  Jonys,"  in  19  Henry  VIII.  wills  that  Sir 
Robert  Bechton,  "  my  chaplen,  syng  ffor  my  soule  by  the  span  of  ix.  yers  ;"  and  further 
requires  an  obit  for  his  soul  for  eleven  years  in  Sompting  Church. — ("  Notes  on  Wills," 
by  M.  A.  Lower,  "  Sussex  Archaeological  Collections,"  iii.  p.  112.) 

J  •'  Dialogue  of  Heresies,"  iii.  c.  12. 

Domestic  Chaplains,  2 1 1 

Hall  of  the  fifteenth  century.  In  great  houses,  besides  the  general 
chapel,  there  was  often  a  small  oratory  besides  for  the  private  use  of  the 
lord  of  the  castle,  in  later  times  called  a  closet ;  sometimes  another  oratory 
for  the  lady,  as  in  the  case  of  the  Earl  of  Northumberland.*  In  some 
of  these  domestic  chapels  we  find  a  curious  internal  arrangement ;  the 
western  part  of  the  apartment  is  divided  into  two  stories  by  a  wooden 
floor.  This  is  the  case  also  with  the  chapel  of  the  preceptory  of  Chobham, 
Northumberland,  of  the  Coyston  Almshouses  at  Leicester  (Parker's  "  Dom. 
Arch  ").  It  is  the  case  in  one  of  the  chapels  in  Tewkesbury  Abbey  Church, 
and  in  the  case  of  a  priory  church  in  Norway.  In  some  cases  it  was  pro- 
bably to  accommodate  the  tenants  of  different  stories  of  the  house.  The 
frequency  with  which  in  later  times  the  lord  of  the  house  had  a  private 
gallery  in  the  chapel  (a  similar  arrangement  occasionally  occurs  in  parish 
churches)  leads  us  to  conjecture  that  in  these  cases  of  two  floors  the  upper 
loor  was  for  the  members  of  the  family,  and  the  lower  for  the  servants  of 

le  house.  These  chapels  were  thoroughly  furnished  with  vessels,  books, 
robes,  and  every  usual  ornament,  and  every  object  and  appliance  neces- 
sary for  the  performance  of  the  offices  of  the  church,  with  a  splendour 
aroportioned   to   the   means  of   the   master  of   the  house.      From    the 

[ousehold  Book  of  the  Earl  of  Northumberland,  we  gather  that 
the  chapel  had  three  altars,  and  that  my  lord  and  my  lady  had  each  a 
closet,  /'.<?.,  an  oratory,  in  which  there  were  other  altars.  The  chapel  was 
furnished  with  hangings,  and  had  a  pair  of  organs.  There  were  four  an- 
tiphoners  and  four  grails — service  books — which  were  so  famous  for  their 
beauty,  that,  at  the  earl's  death,  Wolsey  intimated  his  wish  to  have  them. 
We  find  mention,  too,  of  the  suits  of  vestments  and  single  vestments,  and 
copes  and  surplices,  and  altar-cloths  for  the  five  altars.  All  these  things 
were  under  the  care  of  the  yeoman  of  the  vestry,  and  were  carried  about 
with  the  earl  at  his  removals  from  one  to  another  of  his  houses.  Minute 
catalogues  and  descriptions  of  the  furniture  of  these  domestic  chapels  may 
also  be  found  in  the  inventories  attached  to  ancient  wills.! 

*  See  note  on  previous  page,  "  the  altar-cloths  in  my  lord's  closet  and  my  ladie's." 
f  Of  the  inventories  to  be  found  in  wills,  we  will  give  only  two,  of  the  chapels  of 

212  The  Secular  Clergy  of  the  Middle  Ages. 

We  shall  give  hereafter  a  picture  of  one  of  these  domestic  chaplains, 
viz.,  of  Sir  Roger,  chaplain  of  the  chapel  of  the  Earl  of  Warwick  at 
Flamstead.  There  is  a  picture  of  another  chaplain  of  the  Earl  of 
Warwick  in  the  MS.  Life  of  R.  Beauchamp,  Earl  of  Warwick  (Julius 
E.  IV.),  where  the  earl  and  his  chaplain  are  represented  sitting  together  at 

Besides  the  clergy  who  were  occupied  in  these  various  kinds  of  spiritual 
work,  there  were  also  a  great  number  of  priests  engaged  in  secular  occupa- 
tions. Bishops  were  statesmen,  generals,  and  ambassadors,  employing 
suffragan  bishops*  in  the  work  of  their  dioceses.  Priests  were  engaged  in 
many  ways  in  the  king's  service,  and  in  that  of  noblemen  and  others. 
Piers  Ploughman  says  : — 

"  Somme  serven  the  kyng,  and  his  silver  tellen, 
In  cheker  and  in  chauncelrie,  chalangen  his  dettes, 
Of  wardes  and  of  wardemotes,  weyves  and  theyves. 
And  some  serven  as  servantz,  lordes  and  ladies, 
And  in  stede  of  stywardes,  sitten  and  demen." 

The  domestic  chaplains  were  usually  employed  more  or  less  in  secular 
duties.  Thus  such  services  are  regularly  allotted  to  the  eleven  priests  in 
the  chapel  of  the  Earls  of  Northumberland  ;  one  was  surveyor  of  my  lord's 
lands,  and  another  my  lord's  secretary.  Mr.  Christopher  Pickering,  in  his  will 

country  gentlemen.  Rudulph  Adirlay,  Esq.  of  Colwick  ("  Testamenta  Eboracensia," 
p.  30),  Nottinghamshire,  A.D.  1429,  leaves  to  Alan  de  Cranwill,  his  chaplain,  a  little 
missal  and  another  book,  and  to  Elizabeth  his  wife  "  the  chalice,  vestment,  with  two 
candelabra  of  laton,  and  the  little  missal,  with  all  other  ornaments  belonging  to  my 
chapel."  In  the  inventories  of  the  will  of  John  Smith,  Esq.,  of  Blackmore,  Essex,  A.D. 
1543,  occur  :  "  In  the  chappell  chamber — Item  a  long  setle  yoyned.  In  the  chappell — 
Item  one  aulter  of  yoyner's  worke.  Item  a  table  with  two  leaves  of  the  passion  gilt. 
Item  a  long  setle  of  waynscott.  Item  a  bell  hanging  over  the  chapel.  Chappell  stuff  : 
Copes  and  vestments  thre.  Aulter  fronts  foure.  Corporall  case  one  ;  and  dyvers  peces  of 
silk  necessary  for  cusshyons  v.  Thomas  Smith  (to  have)  as  moche  as  wyll  serve  his  chap- 
pell, the  resydue  to  be  solde  by  myn  executours."  The  plate  and  candlesticks  of  the 
chapel  are  not  specially  mentioned ;  they  are  probably  included  among  the  plate  which 
is  otherwise  disposed  of,  and  "  the  xiiiij  latyn  candlestyckes  of  dyvers  sorts,"  elsewhere 
mentioned. — Essex  Archceological  Society's  Transactions,  vol.  iii.  p.  60. 

*  See  the  Rev.  W.  Stubbs's  learned  and  laborious  "Registrum  Sacrum  Anglicanum," 
which  gives  lists  of  the  suffragan  (as  well  as  the  diocesan)  bishops  of  the  Church  of 

Domestic  Chaplains. 


(a.d.  1542),  leaves  to  "  my  sarvands  John  Dobson  and  Frances,  xx».  a-pece, 
besydes  ther  wages ;  allso  I  gyve  unto  Sir  James  Edwarde  my  sarvand," 
&c. ;  and  one  of  the  witnesses  to  the  will  is  "  Sir  James  Edwarde,  preste," 

/ho  was  probably  Mr.  Pickering's  chaplain.*  Sir  Thomas  More  says, 
svery  man  has  a  priest  to  wait  upon  his  wife ;  and  in  truth  the  chaplain 
seems  to  have  often  performed  the  duties  of  a  superior  gentleman  usher. 
Nicholas  Blackburn,  a  wealthy  citizen  of  York,  and  twice  Lord  Mayor, 
leaves  (a.d.  143 1-2)  a  special  bequest  to  his  wife  "  to  find  her  a  gentle- 
woman,  and   a  priest,   and  a  servant,  "t     Lady   Elizabeth    Hay   leaves 

^quests  in  this  order,  to  her  son,  her  chaplain,  her   servant,  and  her 

laid.  J 

•  "  Richmondshire  Wills,"  p.  34. 

♦Ibid.,  p.  3* 

t  "Test  Ebor.,"  2*0. 



|T  is  necessary,  to  a  complete  sketch  of  the  subject  of  the 
secular  clergy,  to  notice,  however  briefly,  the  minor  orders, 
which  have  so  long  been  abolished  in  the  reformed  Church 
of  England,  that  we  have  forgotten  their  very  names.  There  were 
seven  orders  through  which  the  clerk  had  to  go,  from  the  lowest  to 
the  highest  step  in  the  hierarchy.  The  Pontifical  oi  Archbishop  Ecgbert 
gives  us  the  form  of  ordination  for  each  order ;  and  the  ordination 
ceremonies  and  exhortations  show  us  very  fully  what  were  the  duties 
of  the  various  orders,  and  by  what  costume  and  symbols  of  office  we 
may  recognise  them.  But  these  particulars  are  brought  together  more 
concisely  in  a  document  of  much  later  date,  viz.,  in  the  account  of 
the  degradation  from  the  priesthood  of  Sir  William  Sawtre,  the  first  of 
the  Lollards  who  died  for  heresy,  in  the  year  1400  a.d.,  and  a  transcript 
of  it  will  suffice  for  our  present  purpose.  The  archbishop,  assisted 
by  several  bishops,  sitting  on  the  bishop's  throne  in  St.  Paul's — Sii 
William  Sawtre  standing  before  him  in  priestly  robes — proceeded  to 
the  degradation  as  follows : — "  In  the  name,  &c,  we,  Thomas,  &c, 
degrade  and  depose  you  from  the  order  of  priests,  and  in  token 
thereof  we  take  from  you  the  paten  and  the  chalice,  and  deprive 
you  of  all  power  of  celebrating  mass ;  we  also  strip  you  of  the 
chasuble,  take  from  you  the  sacerdotal  vestment,  and  deprive  you 
altogether  of  the  dignity  of  the  priesthood.  Thee  also,  the  said  William, 
dressed  in  the  habit  of  a  deacon,  and  having  the  book  of  the  gospels 
in  thy  hands,  do  we  degrade  and  depose  from  the  order  of  deacons,  as 

Minor  Orders.  215 

a  condemned  and  relapsed  heretic;  and  in  token  hereof  we  take  from 
thee  the  book  of  the  gospels,  and  the  stole,  and  deprive  thee  of  the 
power  of  reading  the  gospels.  We  degrade  thee  from  the  order  ol 
subdeacons,  and  in  token  thereof  take  from  thee  the  albe  and  maniple. 
We  degrade  thee  from  the  order  of  an  acolyte,  taking  from  thee  in 
token  thereof  this  small  pitcher  and  taper  staff.  We  degrade  thee  from 
the  order  of  an  exorcist,  and  take  from  thee  in  token  thereof  the  book  of 
exorcisms.  We  degrade  thee  from  the  order  of  reader,  and  take  from  thee 
in  token  thereof  the  book  of  divine  lessons.  Thee  also,  the  said  William 
Sawtre,  vested  in  a  surplice  as  an  ostiary,*  do  we  degrade  from  that  order, 
taking  from  thee  the  surplice  and  the  keys  of  the  church.  Furthermore,  as  a 
sign  of  actual  degradation,  we  have  caused  the  crown  and  clerical  tonsure 
to  be  shaved  off  in  our  presence,  and  to  be  entirely  obliterated  like  a  lay- 
man ;  we  have  also  caused  a  woollen  cap  to  be  put  upon  thy  head,  as  a 
secular  layman." 

The  word  clericus — clerk — was  one  of  very  wide  and  rather  vague  signi- 
ficance, and  included  not  only  the  various  grades  of  clerks  in  orders,  ot 
whom  we  have  spoken,  but  also  all  men  who  followed  any  kind  of  occupa- 
tion which  involved  the  use  of  reading  and  writing ;  finally,  every  man  who 
could  read  might  claim  the  "  benefit  of  clergy,"  i.e.,  the  legal  immunities 
of  a  clerk.  The  word  is  still  used  with  the  same  comprehensiveness  and 
vagueness  of  meaning.  Clerk  in  Orders  is  still  the  legal  description  of  a 
clergyman  ;  and  men  whose  occupation  is  to  use  the  pen  are  still  called 
clerks,  as  lawyers'  clerks,  merchants'  clerks,  &c.  Clerks  were  often  em- 
ployed in  secular  occupations ;   for  example,  Alan   Middleton,  who  was 

•  In  a  pontifical  of  the  middle  of  the  fifteenth  century,  in  the  British  Museum, 
(Egerton,  1067)  at  f.  19,  is  an  illumination  at  the  beginning  of  the  service  for  ordering 
an  ostiary,  in  which  the  act  is  represented.  The  bishop,  habited  in  a  green  chasuble 
and  white  mitre,  is  delivering  the  keys  to  the  clerk,  who  is  habited  in  a  surplice  over  a 
black  cassock,  and  is  tonsured.  At  f.  35  of  the  same  MS.  is  a  pretty  little  picture,  show- 
ing the  ordination  of  priests ;  and  at  f.  44  v.,  of  the  consecration  of  bishops.  Other 
episcopal  acts  are  illustrated  in  the  same  MS. :  confirmation  at  f.  12  ;  dedication  of  a 
church,  f.  100 ;  consecration  of  an  altar,  f.  120 ;  benediction  of  a  cemetery,  f.  149  v. ; 
consecration  of  chalice  and  paten,  f.  163 ;  reconciling  penitents,  f.  182  and  f.  186  v.  ;  the 
"feet- washing,"  f.  186. 

2 1 6  The  Secular  Clergy  of  the  Middle  Ages. 

employed  by  the  convent  of  St.  Alban's  to  collect  their  rents,  and  who  is 
represented  on  page  63  ante  in  the  picture  from  their  "  Catalogus  Benefac- 
torum  "  (Nero  D.  vii.,  British  Museum),  is  tonsured,  and  therefore  was  a 
clerk.  Chaucer  gives  us  a  charming  picture  of  a  poor  clerk  of  Oxford, 
who  seems  to  have  been  a  candidate  for  holy  orders,  and  is  therefore 
germane  to  our  subject : — 

"  A  clerke  there  was  of  Oxenforde  also, 
That  unto  logike  hadde  long  ygo, 
As  lene  was  his  horse  as  is  a  rake, 
And  he  was  not  right  fat,  I  undertake, 
But  looked  holwe  and  thereto  soberly. 
Ful  thredbare  was  his  overest  courtepy,* 
For  he  hadde  getten  him  yet  no  benefice, 
Ne  was  nought  worldly  to  have  an  office,  f 
For  him  was  lever  han  at  his  beddes  hed 
A  twenty  bokes,  clothed  in  black  or  red, 
Of  Aristotle  and  his  philosophic, 
Than  robes  riche,  or  fidel  or  sautrie. 
But  all  be  that  he  was  a  philosophre, 
Yet  hadde  he  but  little  gold  in  cofre, 
But  all  that  he  might  of  his  frendes  hente,J 
On  bokes  and  on  lerning  he  it  spente  ; 
And  besely  gan  for  the  soules  praye 
Of  hem  that  yave  him  wherewith  to  scholaie,} 
Of  studie  toke  he  moste  cure  and  hede. 
Not  a  word  spake  he  more  than  was  nede, 
And  that  was  said  in  forme  and  reverence, 
And  short  and  quike,  and  ful  of  high  sentence. 
Souning  in  moral  vertue  was  his  speche, 
And  gladly  wolde  he  lerne  and  gladly  teche." 

In  the  Miller's  Tale  Chaucer  gives  us  a  sketch  of  another  poor  scholar  of 
Oxford.     He  lodged  with  a  carpenter,  and 

"  A  chambre  had  he  in  that  hostelerie, 
Alone  withouten  any  compaynie, 
Ful  fetisly  'ydight  with  herb6s  sweet." 

His  books  great  and  small,  and  his  astrological  apparatus 

*  Outer  short  cloak. 

t  Was  not  sufficiently  a  man  of  the  world  to  be  fit  for  a  secular  occupation. 
J  Obtain.  §  To  pursue  his  studies. 

Parish  Clerks. 


"  On  shelves  couched  at  his  bedd6's  head, 
His  press  ycovered  with  a  falding  red, 
And  all  about  there  lay  a  gay  sautrie 
On  which  he  made  on  nightes  melodie 
So  swetely  that  all  the  chamber  rung, 
And  Angelas  ad  Virginem  he  sung." 

We  give  a  typical  illustration  of  the  class  from  one  of  the  characters  in 

a  Dance  of  Death  at  the  end  of  a  Book  of  the  Hours  of  the  Blessed  Virgin 

Mary,  in  the  British  Museum.     It  is  described 

beneath  as  "  Un  Clerc."  * 

One  of  this  class  was   employed  by   every 

parish  to  perform  certain  duties  on  behalf  of  the 

parishioners,   and   to   assist  the   clergyman  in 

certain    functions    of  his  office.      The   Parish 

Clerk  has  survived  the  revolution  which  swept 

away  the  other  minor  ecclesiastical  officials  of 

the  middle  ages,  and  still  has  his  legal  status  in 

the   parish   church.      Probably  many   of    our 

readers  will  be  surprised  to  hear  that  the  office 

is  an  ancient  one,  and  will  take  interest  in  a 

few  original  extracts  which  throw  light  on  the 


In  the  wills  he  frequently  has  a  legacy  left,  together  with  the  clergy — 

e.g.,  "  Item  I  leave  to  my  parish  vicar  ilj^  iiij*1  Item  I  leave  to  my  parish 
lerk  xijd  Item  I  leave  to  every  chaplain  present  at  my  obsequies  and 
iass   iiijd-"     (Will  of  John  Brompton,   of  Beverley,   merchant,    1443.)! 

Elizabeth  del  Hay,  in  1434,  leaves  to  "  every  priest  ministering  at  my 

obsequies  vi4 ;  to  every  parish  clerk  iiij**- ;  to  minor  clerks  to  each  one 

ij4-"  %     Hawisia  Aske,  of  York,  in  1 450-1  a.d.,  leaves  to  the  "  parish  chap- 
lain of  St.  Michael  iijs-  iiijd- ;  to  every  chaplain  of  the  said  church  xx±  ;  to 

A  CUrk. 

*  For  another  good  illustration  of  a  clerk  of  time  of  Richard  II.  see  the  illumination  of 
that  king's  coronation  in  the  frontispiece  of  the  MS.  Royal,  14,  £  iv.,  where  he  seems  to 
be  in  attendance  on  one  of  the  bishops.  He  is  habited  in  blue  cassock,  red  liripipe, 
blark    urse,  with  penner  and  inkhorn. 

t  "  Test.  Ebor.,"  voL  ii.  p.  98.  ;  Ibid.,  vol.  ii.  p.  38. 

218  The  Secular  Clergy  of  the  Middle  Ages, 

the  parish  clerk  of  the  said  church  xx"1 ;  to  the  sub-clerk  of  the  same 
church  xd"*  John  Clerk,  formerly  chaplain  of  the  chapel  of  the  Blessed 
Mary  Magdalen,  near  York,  in  1449,  leaves  to  "the  parish  clerk  of  St. 
Olave,  in  the  suburbs  of  York,  xijd-;  to  each  of  the  two  chaplains  of  the 
said  church  being  present  at  my  funeral  and  mass  iiijd  j  to  the  parish  clerk 
of  the  said  church  iiij4 ;  to  the  sub-clerk  of  the  said  church  xf- ;  among  the 
little  boys  of  the  said  church  wearing  surplices  iiijd-,  to  be  distributed 
equally."  f  These  extracts  serve  to  indicate  the  clerical  staff  of  the  several 
churches  mentioned. 

From  other  sources  we  learn  what  his  duties  were.  In  1540  the  parish 
of  Milend,  near  Colchester,  was  presented  to  the  archdeacon  by  the  recton 
because  in  the  said  church  there  was  "  nother  clerke  nor  sexten  to  go 
withe  him  in  tyme  of  visitacion  [of  the  sick],  nor  to  helpe  him  say  masses, 
nor  to  rynge  to  servyce."^  And  in  1543  the  Vicar  of  Kelveden,  Essex, 
complains  that  there  is  not  "caryed  holy  water,  §  norryngyng  to  evensonge 
accordyng  as  the  clerke  shuld  do,  with  other  dutees  to  him  belongyng."  || 
In  the  York  presentations  we  find  a  similar  complaint  at  Wyghton  in  1472 ; 
they  present  that  the  parish  clerk  does  not  perform  his  services  as  he 
ought,  because  when  he  ought  to  go  with  the  vicar  to  visit  the  sick, 
the  clerk  absents  himself,  and  sends  a  boy  with  the  vicar.  ^[  The  clerk 
might  be  a  married  man,  for  in  141 6  Thomas  Curtas,  parish  clerk  of 
the  parish  of  St.  Thomas  the  Martyr,  is  presented,  because  with  his  wife 
he  has  hindered,  and  still  hinders,  the  parish  clerk  of  St.  Mary  Bishophill, 
York  [in  which  parish  he  seems  to  have  lived]  from  entering  his  house 
on  the  Lord's  days  with  holy  water,  as  is  the  custom  of  the  city.  Also  it 
is  complained  that  the  said  Thomas  and  his  wife  refuse  to  come  to  hear 
divine  service  at  their  parish  church,  and  withdraw  their  oblat  ions.  In  the 
Royal  MS.,  10,  E  iv.,  is  a  series  of  illustrations  of  a  mediaeval  tale,  which 

*  "  Test.  Ebor.,"  vol.  ii.  p.  143.  t  Ibid.,  vol.  ii.  p.  149. 

%  Archdeacon  Hale's  "Precedents  in  Criminal  Causes,"  p.  113. 

§  From  the  duty  of  carrying  holy  water,  mentioned  here  and  in  other  extracts,  the 
slerk  derived  the  name  of  aqua  bajulus,  by  which  he  is  often  called,  e.g.,  in  many  of  the 
places  in  Archdeacon  Hale's  "  Precedents  in  Criminal  Causes." 

|J  Ibid.,  p.  122.  U  York  Fabric  Rolls,  p.  257.  **  Ibid.,  p.  248. 

Parish  Clerks. 


turns  on  the  adventures  of  a  parish  clerk,  as  he  goes  through  the  parish 
aspersing  the  people  with  holy  water.  Two  of  the  pictures  will  suffice  to 
show  the  costume  and  the  holy  water-pot  and  aspersoir,  and  to  indicate 

The  Parish  Clerk  sprinkling  the  Coot. 

how  he  went  into  all  the  rooms  of  the  house — now  into  the  kitchen  sprink- 
ling the  cook,  now  into  the  hall  sprinkling  the  lord  and  lady  who  are  at 
breakfast.     In  the  woodcut  on  p.  24 r,  will  be  seen  how  he  precedes  an 

The  Parish  Clerk  sprinkling  the  Kr.ight  and  Lady. 

ecclesiastical  procession,  sprinkling  the  people  on  each  side  as  he  goes. 
The  subsequent  description  (p.  221)  of  the  parish  clerk  Absolon,  by 
Chaucer,  indicates  that  sometimes — perhaps  on  some  special  festivals — 
the  clerk  went  about  censing  the  people  instead  of  sprinkling  them. 

220  The  Secular  Clergy  of  the  Middle  Ages. 

To  continue  the  notes  of  a  parish  clerk's  duties,  gathered  from  the 
churchwardens'  presentations:  at  Wyghton,  in  15 10,  they  find  "a  faut 
with  our  parish  clerk  yt  he  hath  not  done  his  dewtee  to  ye  kirk,  yt 
is  to  say,  ryngyng  of  ye  mOrne  bell  and  ye  evyn  bell ;  and  also 
another  fawt  [which  may  explain  the  former  one],  he  fyndes  yt  pour 
mene  pays  hym  not  his  wages."*  At  Cawood,  in  15 10  a.d.,  we  find 
it  the  duty  of  the  parish  clerk  "to  keepe  ye  clok  and  ryng  corfer 
[curfew]  at  dew  tymes  appointed  by  ye  parrish,  and  also  to  ryng  ye 
day  bell."  t  He  had  his  desk  in  church  near  the  clergyman,  perhaps 
on  the  opposite  side  of  the  chancel,  as  we  gather  from  a  presentation 
from  St.  Maurice,  York,  in  141 6,  that  the  desks  in  the  choir  on  both 
sides,  especially  where  the  parish  chaplain  and  parish  clerk  are  accus- 
tomed to  sit,  need  repair.  J  A  story  in  Matthew  Paris  §  tells  us  what  his 
office  was  worth  :  "  It  happened  that  an  agent  of  the  pope  met  a  petty 
clerk  of  a  village  carrying  water  in  a  little  vessel,  with  a  sprinkler  and  some 
bits  of  bread  given  him  for  having  sprinkled  some  holy  water,  and  to  him 
the  deceitful  Roman  thus  addressed  himself :  '  How  much  does  the  profit 
yielded  to  you  by  this  church  amount  to  in  a  year  ? '  To  which  the  clerk, 
ignorant  of  the  Roman's  cunning,  replied,  '  To  twenty  shillings  I  think ; ' 
whereupon  the  agent  demanded  the  per-centage  the  pope  had  just  demanded 
on  all  ecclesiastical  benefices.  And  to  pay  that  small  sum  this  poor  man 
was  compelled  to  hold  schools  for  many  days,  and  by  selling  his  books  in 
the  precincts,  to  drag  on  a  half-starved  life."  The  parish  clerks  of  London 
formed  a  guild,  which  used  to  exhibit  miracle  plays  at  its  annual  feast,  on 
the  green,  in  the  parish  of  St.  James,  Clerkenwell.  The  parish  clerks 
always  took  an  important  part  in  the  conduct  of  the  miracle  plays  ;  and  it 
was  natural  that  when  they  united  their  forces  in  such  an  exhibition  on 
behalf  of  their  guild  the  result  should  be  an  exhibition  of  unusual  excel- 
lence. Stow  tells  us  that  in  1391  the  guild  performed  before  the  king  and 
queen  and  whole  court  three  days  successively,  and  that  in  1409  they  pro- 
duced a  play  of  the  creation  of  the  world,  whose  representation  occupied 

•  York  Fabric  Rolls,  p.  265.  f  Ibid.,  p.  266. 

\  Ibid.,  p.  248.  §  Bohn's  Edition,  ii.  388. 

Parish  Clerks.  221 

eight  successive  days.  The  Passion-play,  still  exhibited  every  ten  years  at 
Ober-Ammergau,  has  made  all  the  world  acquainted  with  the  kind  of 
exhibition  in  which  our  forefathers  delighted.  These  miracle-plays  still 
survive  also  in  Spain,  and  probably  in  other  Roman  Catholic  countries. 

Chaucer  has  not  failed  to  give  us,  in  his  wonderful  gallery  of  contem- 
porary characters  (in  the  Miller's  Tale),  a  portrait  of  the  parish  clerk  : — 

"  Now  was  ther  of  that  churche  a  parish  clerk, 
The  which  that  was  ycleped  Absolon. 
Crulle  was  his  here,*  and  as  the  gold  it  shon, 
And  strouted  as  a  fanne  large  and  brode  ; 
Ful  streight  and  even  lay  his  jolly  shode. 
His  rodef  was  red,  his  eyen  grey  as  goos, 
With  Poules  windowes  carven  on  his  shoos, 
In  hosen  red  he  went  ful  fetisly,  j 
Yclad  he  was  ful  smal  and  proprely, 
All  in  a  kirtle  of  a  light  waget,§ 
Ful  faire  and  thicke  ben  the  pointes  set. 
An'  therupon  he  had  a  gay  surplise, 
As  white  as  is  the  blossome  upon  the  rise.|| 
A  mery  child  he  was,  so  God  me  save, 
Wei  coud  he  leten  blod,  and  clippe,  and  shave, 
And  make  a  chartre  of  lond  and  a  quitance ; 
In  twenty  manere  could  he  trip  and  dance, 
(After  the  scole  of  Oxenforde  tho) 
And  playen  songes  on  a  smal  ri  bible,  U 
Therto  he  song,  sometime  a  loud  quinible,H 
And  as  wel  could  he  play  on  a  giteme. 
In  all  the  toun  n'as  brewhouse  ne  taveme 
That  he  ne  visited  with  his  solas, 
Ther  as  that  any  galliard  tapstere  was. 
This  Absolon,  that  joly  was  and  gay, 
Goth  with  a  censor  on  the  holy  day, 
Censing  the  wives  of  the  parish  faste,** 
And  many  a  lovely  loke  he  on  hem  caste. 

»  •  •  *  » 

Sometime  to  shew  his  lightnesse  and  maistrie, 
He  plaieth  Herode  on  a  skaffold  hie." 

*  Hair.  t  Complexion.  £  Neatly. 

§  Watchet,  a  kind  of  cloth.  ||  Small  twigs  or  trees.         U  Musical  instruments. 

**  As  the  parish  clerk  of  St.  Mary,  York,  used  to  go  to  the  people's  houses  with  holy 
water  on  Sundays. 



(E  shall  obtain  further  help  to  a  comprehension  of  the  character, 
and  position,  and  popular  estimation  of  the  mediaeval  seculars — 
the  parish  priests — if  we  compare  them  first  with  the  regulars 
— the  monks  and  friars — and  then  with  their  modern  representatives  the 
parochial  clergy.  One  great  point  of  difference  between  the  regulars  and 
the  seculars  was  that  the  monks  and  friars  affected  asceticism,  and  the 
parish  priests  did  not.  The  monks  and  friars  had  taken  the  three 
vows  of  absolute  poverty,  voluntary  celibacy,  and  implicit  obedience 
to  the  superior  of  the  convent.  The  parish  priests,  on  the  contrary, 
had  their  benefices  and  their  private  property ;  they  long  resisted  the 
obligations  of  celibacy,  which  popes  and  councils  tried  to  lay  upon 
them;  they  were  themselves  spiritual  rulers  in  their  own  parishes,  sub- 
ject only  to  the  constitutional  rule  of  the  bishop.  The  monks  professed 
to  shut  themselves  up  from  the  world,  and  to  mortify  their  bodily  appetites 
in  order  the  better,  as  they  considered,  to  work  out  their  own  salvation. 
The  friars  professed  to  be  the  schools  of  the  prophets,  to  have  the  spirit  of 
Nazariteship,  to  be  followers  of  Elijah  and  John  Baptist,  to  wear  sackcloth, 
and  live  hardly,  and  go  about  as  preachers  of  repentance.  The  secular 
clergy  had  no  desire  and  felt  no  need  to  shut  themselves  up  from  the 
world  like  monks ;  they  did  not  feel  called  upon,  with  the  friars,  to  imitate 
John  Baptist,  "  neither  eating  nor  drinking,"  seeing  that  a  greater  than  he 
came  "  eating  and  drinking "  and  living  the  common  life  of  men.  They 
rather  looked  upon  Christian  priests  and  clerks  as  occupying  the  place  of 
the  priests  and  Levites  of  the  ancient  church,  set  apart  to  minister  in  holy 

Regulars  and  Seculars.  223 

things  like  them,  but  not  condemned  to  poverty  or  asceticism  any  more 
than  they  were.  The  difference  told  unfavourably  for  the  parish  clergy  in 
the  popular  estimation  ;  for  the  unreasoning  crowd  is  always  impressed  by 
the  dramatic  exhibition  of  austerity  of  life  and  the  profession  of  extra- 
ordinary sanctity,  and  undervalues  the  virtue  which  is  only  seen  in  the 
godly  regulation  of  a  life  of  ordinary  every-day  occupations.  The  lord 
monks  were  the  aristocratic  order  of  the  clergy.  Their  convents  were 
wealthy  and  powerful,  their  minsters  and  houses  were  the  glory  of  the 
land,  their  officials  ranked  with  the  nobles,  and  the  greatness  of  the  whole 
house  reflected  dignity  upon  each  of  its  monks. 

The  friars  were  the  popular  order  of  the  clergy.  The  Four  Orders  were 
great  organizations  of  itinerant  preachers;  powerful  through  their  learning  and 
eloquence,  their  organization,  and  the  Papal  support ;  cultivating  the  favour 
of  the  people  by  which  they  lived  by  popular  eloquence  and  demagogic  arts. 

Between  these  two  great  classes  stood  the  secular  clergy,  upon  whom 
the  practical  pastoral  work  of  the  country  fell.  A  numerous  body,  but 
disorganized ;  diocesan  bishops  acting  as  statesmen,  and  devolving  their 
ecclesiastical  duties  on  suffragans ;  rectors  refusing  to  take  priests'  orders, 
and  living  like  laymen  ;  the  majority  of  the  parishes  practically  served  by 
parochial  chaplains  ;  every  gentleman  having  his  own  chaplain  dependent 
on  his  own  pleasure  ;  hundreds  of  priests  engaged  in  secular  occupations. 

Between  the  secular  priests  and  the  friars,  as  we  have  seen,  pp.  46  etseq., 
there  was  a  direct  rivalry  and  a  great  deal  of  bitter  feeling.  The  friars  ac- 
cused the  parish  priests  of  neglect  of  duty  and  ignorance  in  spiritual  things 
id  worldliness  of  life,  and  came  into  their  parishes  whenever  they  pleased, 
^reaching  and  visiting  from  house  to  house,  hearing  confessions  and  pre- 
scribing penances,  and  carrying  away  the  offerings  of  the  people.  The 
parish  priests  looked  upon  the  friars  as  intruders  in  their  parishes,  and 
accused  them  of  setting  their  people  against  them  and  undermining  their 
spiritual  influence  ;  of  corrupting  discipline,  by  receiving  the  confessions 
of  those  who  were  ashamed  to  confess  to  their  pastor  who  knew  them,  and 
enjoining  light  penances  in  order  to  encourage  people  to  come  to  them  ; 
and  lastly,  of  using  all  the  arts  of  low  popularity-seeking  in  order  to  extract 
gifts  and  offerings  from  their  people. 

224  The  Secular  Clergy  of  the  Middle  Ages. 

We  have  already  given  one  contemporary  illustration  of  this  from 
Chaucer,  at  p.  46  ante.  We  add  one  or  two  extracts  from  Piers  Plough- 
man's Vision.  In  one  place  of  his  elaborate  allegory  he  introduces  Wrath, 
saying : — 

"  I  am  Wrath,  quod  he,  I  was  sum  tyme  a  frere, 
Anil  the  convent's  gardyner  for  to  graffimpes* 
On  limitoures  and  listers  lesyngs  I  imped 
Till  they  bere  leaves  of  low  speech  lordes  to  please 
And  sithen  thier  blossomed  abrode  in  bower  to  hear  shriftes. 
And  now  is  fallen  therof  a  fruite,  that  folk  have  well  liever 
Shewen  her  shriftes  to  hem  than  shryve  hem  to  ther  parsones. 
And  now,  parsons  have  perceyved  that  freres  part  with  hem, 
These  possessionem  preache  and  deprave  freres, 
And  freres  find  hem  in  default,  as  folk  beareth  witness." — v.  143. 

And  again  on  the  same  grievance  of  the  friars  gaining  the  confidence 
of  the  people  away  from  their  parish  priests — • 

"And  well  is  this  y-holde  :  in  parisches  of  Engelonde, 
For  persones  and  parish  prestes  :  that  shulde  the  peple  shryve, 
Ben  curatoures  called :  to  know  and  to  hele. 
Alle  that  ben  her  parishens  :  penaunce  to  enjoine, 
And  shulden  be  ashamed  in  her  shrifte  :  an  shame  maketh  hem  wende, 
And  fleen  to  the  freres  :  as  fals  folke  to  Westmynstere, 
That  boi  with  and  bereth  it  thider."f 

#hen  we  compare  the  mediaeval  seculars  with  the  modern  clergy,  we 
find  that  the  modern  clergy  form  a  much  more  homogeneous  body.  In  the 
mediaeval  seculars  the  bishop  was  often  one  who  had  been  a  monk  or  friar ; 
the  cathedral  clergy  in  many  dioceses  were  regulars.  Then,  besides  the  par- 
sons and  parochial  chaplains,  who  answer  to  our  incumbents  and  curates, 
there  were  the  chantry  and  gild  priests,  and  priests  who  "  lived  at  rovers 
on  trentals;"  the  great  number  of  domestic  chaplains  must  have  consider- 
ably affected  the  relations  of  the  parochial  clergy  to  the  gentry.  Of  the 
inferior  ecclesiastical  people,  deacons,  sub-deacons,  acolytes,  readers, 
exorcists,  and  ostiaries    it   is  probable  that  in  an  ordinary  parish  there 

*  Grafted  lies. 

t  As  debtors  flee  to  sanctuary  at  Westminster,  and  live  on  what  they  have  borrowed, 
and  set  their  creditors  at  defiance. 

Mediaval  and  Modern  Clergy.  225 

would  be  only  a  parish  clerk  and  a  boy-acolyte ;  in  larger  churches  an 
ostiary  besides,  answering  to  our  verger,  and  in  cathedrals  a  larger  staff 
of  minor  officials ;  but  it  is  doubtful  whether  there  was  any  real  working 
staff  of  sub-deacons,  readers,  exorcists,  any  more  than  we  in  these  days 
have  a  working  order  of  deacons ;  men  passed  through  those  orders  on 
their  way  upwards  to  the  priesthood,  but  made  no  stay  in  them. 

.  But  a  still  greater  difference  between  the  mediaeval  secular  clergy  and 
the  modern  parochial  clergy  is  in  their  relative  position  with  respect  to 
society  generally.  The  homogeneous  body  of  "  the  bishops  and  clergy  " 
are  the  only  representatives  of  a  clergy  in  the  eyes  of  modern  English 
society;  the  relative  position  of  the  secular  clergy  in  the  eyes  of  the 
mediaeval  world  was  less  exclusive  and  far  inferior.  The  seculars  were 
only  one  order  of  the  clergy,  sharing  the  tide  with  monks  and  friars,  and 
they  were  commonly  held  as  inferior  to  the  one  in  wealth  and  learning, 
and  to  the  other  in  holiness  and  zeal. 

Another  difference  between  the  mediaeval  seculars  and  the  modern 
clergy  is  in  the  superior  independence  of  the  latter.  The  poor  parochial 
chaplain  was  largely  dependent  for  his  means  of  living  on  the  fees  and 
offerings  of  his  parishioners.  The  domestic  chaplain  was  only  an  upper 
servant.  Even  the  country  incumbent,  in  those  feudal  days  when  the  lord 
of  the  manor  was  a  petty  sovereign,  was  very  much  under  the  influence  of 
the  local  magnate. 

In  some  primitive  little  villages,  where  the  lord  of  the  manor  continues 
to  be  the  sovereign  of  his  village,  it  is  still  the  fashion  for  the  clergyman  not 
to  begin  service  till  the  squire  comes.  The  Book  of  the  Knight  of  La 
Tour  Landry  gives  two  stories  which  serve  to  show  that  the  deference  of 
the  clergyman  to  the  squire  was  sometimes  carried  to  very  excessive 
lengths  in  the  old  days  of  which  we  are  writing.  "  I  have  herde  of  a  knight 
and  of  a  lady  that  in  her  youthe  delited  hem  to  rise  late.  And  so  they 
used  longe,  tille  many  tymes  that  thei  lost  her  masse,  and  made  other  of 
her  parisshe  to  lese  it,  for  the  knight  was  lorde  and  patron  of  the  chirche, 
and  therfor  the  priest  durst  not  disobeye  hym.  And  so  it  happed  that 
on  a  Sunday  the  knight  sent  unto  the  chirche  that  thei  shulde  abide  hym. 
And  whane  he  come,  it  was  passed  none,  wherfor  thir  might  not  that  day 


226  The  Secular  Clergy  of  the  Middle  Ages, 

have  no  masse,  for  every  man  saide  it  was  passed  tyme  of  the  day,  and 
therfor  thei  durst  not  singe.  And  so  that  Sunday  the  knight,  the  lady, 
and  alle  the  parisshe  was  without  masse,  of  the  whiche  the  pepelle  were  sori, 
but  thir  must  needs  suffre."  And  on  a  night  there  came  a  vision  to  the 
parson,  and  the  same  night  the  knight  and  lady  dreamed  a  dream.  And 
the  parson  came  to  the  knighfs  house,  and  he  told  him  his  vision,  and 
the  priest  his,  of  which  they  greatly  marvelled,  for  their  dreams  were  like. 
"  And  the  priest  said  unto  the  knight,  '  There  is  hereby  in  a  forest  an  holy 
ermyte  that  canne  telle  us  what  this  avision  menithe.'  And  than  thei  yede  to 
hym,  and  tolde  it  hym  fro  point  to  point,  and  as  it  was.  And  the  wise  holi 
man,  the  which  was  of  blessed  lyff,  expounded  and  declared  her  avision." 

The  other  story  is  of  "  a  ladi  that  dwelled  faste  by  the  chirche,  that 
toke  every  day  so  long  time  to  make  her  redy  that  it  made  every  Sunday 
the  person  of  the  chirche  and  the  parisshenes  to  abide  after  her.  And 
she  happed  to  abide  so  longe  on  a  Sunday  that  it  was  fer  dayes,  and 
every  man  said  to  other,  '  This  day  we  trow  shall  not  this  lady  be  kerned 
and  arraied.'" 

The  condition  of  the  parochial  clergy  being  such  as  we  have  sketched, 
it  might  seem  as  if  the  people  stood  but  a  poor  chance  of  being  Chris- 
tianly  and  virtuously  brought  up.  But  when  we  come  to  inquire  into  that 
part  of  the  question  the  results  are  unexpectedly  satisfactory.  The  priests 
in  charge  of  parishes  seem,  on  the  whole,  to  have  done  their  duty 
better  than  we  should  have  anticipated ;  and  the  people  generally  had 
a  knowledge  of  the  great  truths  of  religion,  greater  probably  than  is 
now  generally  possessed — it  was  taught  to  them  by  the  eye  in  sculp- 
tures, paintings,  stained  glass,  miracle  plays ;  these  religious  truths  were 
probably  more  constantly  in  their  minds  and  on  their  lips  than  is  the 
case  now — they  occur  much  more  frequently  in  popular  literature;  and 
though  the  people  were  rude  and  coarse  and  violent  and  sensual  enough, 
yet  it  is  probable  that  religion  was  a  greater  power  among  them  gene- 
rally than  it  is  now;  there  was  probably  more  crime,  but  less  vice, 
above  all,  an  elevated  sanctity  in  individuals  was  probably  more  common 
m  those  times  than  in  these. 

The  Mediceval  Pastor  in  his  Parish.  227 

One  interesting  evidence  of  the  actual  mode  of  pastoral  ministrations 
in  those  days  is  the  handbooks,  which  were  common  enough,  teach- 
ing the  parish  priest  his  duties.  The  Early  English  Text  Society  has 
lately  done  us  a  service  by  publishing  one  of  these  manuals  of  "  Instruc- 
tions for  Parish  Priests,"  which  will  enable  us  to  give  some  notes  on  the 
subject.  "  Great  numbers,''  says  the  editor,  "  of  independent  works  of 
this  nature  were  produced  in  the  Middle  Ages.  There  is  probably  not  a 
language  or  dialect  in  Europe  that  has  not  now,  or  had  not  once,  several 
treatises  of  this  nature  among  its  early  literature.  The  growth  of  languages, 
the  Reformation,  and  the  alteration  in  clerical  education  consequent  on 
that  great  revolution,  have  caused  a  great  part  of  them  to  perish  or  become 
forgotten.  A  relic  of  this  sort  fished  up  from  the  forgotten  past  is  very 
useful  to  us  as  a  help  towards  understanding  the  sort  of  life  our  fathers 
lived.  To  many  it  will  seem  strange  that  these  directions,  written  without 
the  least  thought  of  hostile  criticism,  when  there  was  no  danger  in  plain 
speaking,  and  no  inducements  to  hide  or  soften  down,  should  be  so  free 
from  superstition.  We  have  scarcely  any  of  the  nonsense  which  some 
people  still  think  made  up  the  greater  part  of  the  religion  of  the  Middle 
Ages,  but  instead  thereof  good  sound  morality,  such  as  it  would  be  pleasant 
to  hear  preached  at  the  present  day." 

The  book  in  question  is  by  John  Myrk,  a  canon  regular  of  St.  Austin,  of 
Lilleshall,  in  Shropshire  ;  the  beautiful  ruins  of  his  monastery  may  still  be 
seen  in  the  grounds  of  the  Duke  of  Sutherland's  shooting-box  at  Lilleshall. 
He  tells  us  that  he  translated  it  from  a  Latin  book  called  "  Pars  Oculi." 
It  is  worthy  of  note  that  a  former  prior  of  Lilleshall,  Johannes  Miraus, 
had  written  a  work  on  the  same  subject,  called  "  Manuale  Sacerdotis," 
to  which  John  Myrk's  bears  much  resemblance,  both  in  subject  and  treat- 
ment. The  editor's  sketch  of  the  argument  of  the  "Instructions  to 
Parish  Priests  "  will  help  us  to  give  a  sufficient  idea  of  its  contents  for 
our  present  purpose. 

The  author  begins  by  telling  the  parish  priest  what  sort  of  man  he 
himself  should  be.     Not  ignorant,  because 

«« Whenne  the  blynde  ledeth  the  blynde 
Into  the  dyche  they  fallen  both." 

228  The  Secular  Clergy  of  the  Middle  Ages. 

He  must  himself  be  an  example  to  his  people : — 
"  What  thee  nedeth  hem  to  teche 
And  whyche  thou  muste  thy  self  be. 
For  lytel  is  worth  thy  prechynge 
If  thou  be  of  evyle  lyvynge." 

He  must  be  chaste,  eschew  lies  and  oaths,  drunkenness,  gluttony,  pride, 
sloth,  and  envy.  Must  keep  from  taverns,  trading,  wrestling,  and  shooting, 
and  the  like  manly  sports ;  from  hunting,  hawking,  and  dancing.  Must 
not  wear  cutted  clothes  or  pyked  shoes,  or  dagger,  but  wear  becoming 
clothes,  and  shave  his  crown  and  beard.  Must  be  given  to  hospitality,  both  to 
poor  and  rich,  read  his  psalter,  and  remember  doomsday  ;  return  good  for 
evil,  eschew  jesting  and  ribaldry,  despise  the  world,  and  follow  after  virtue. 
The  priest  must  not  be  content  with  knowing  his  own  duties.  He 
must  be  prepared  to  teach  those  under  his  charge  all  that  Christian  men 
and  women  should  do  and  believe.  We  are  told  that  when  any  one  has 
done  a  sin  he  must  not  continue  long  with  it  on  his  conscience,  but  go 
straight  to  the  priest  and  confess  it,  lest  he  should  forget  before  the  great 
shriving  time  at  Eastertide.  Pregnant  women,  especially,  are  to  go  to 
their  shrift,  and  receive  the  Holy  Communion  at  once.  Our  instructor  is 
very  strict  on  the  duties  of  midwives — women  they  were  really  in  those 
days,  and  properly  licensed  to  their  office  by  the  ecclesiastical  authorities. 
They  are  on  no  account  to  permit  children  to  die  unbaptized.  If  there 
be  no  priest  at  hand,  they  are  to  administer  that  sacrament  themselves  if 
they  see  danger  of  death.  They  must  be  especially  careful  to  use  the 
right  form  of  words,  such  as  our  Lord  taught ;  but  it  does  not  matter 
whether  they  say  them  in  Latin  or  English,  or  whether  the  Latin  be  good 
or  bad,  so  that  the  intention  be  to  use  the  proper  words.  The  water,  and 
the  vessel  that  contained  it,  are  not  to  be  again  employed  in  domestic 
use,  but  to  be  burned  or  carried  to  the  church  and  cast  into  the  font.  If 
no  one  else  be  at  hand,  the  parents  themselves  may  baptize  their  children. 
All  infants  are  to  be  christened  at  Easter  and  Whitsuntide  in  the  newly- 
blessed  fonts,  if  there  have  not  been  necessity  to  administer  the  Sacrament 
before.  Godparents  are  to  be  careful  to  teach  their  godchildren  the  Pater 
Noster,  Ave  Maria,  and  Credo;  and  are  not  to  be  sponsors  to  their  god- 
children at  their  Confirmation,  for  they  have  already  contracted  a  spiritua' 

The  Mediceval  Pastor  in  his  Parish.  229 

relationship.  Before  weddings  banns  are  to  be  asked  on  three  holidays, 
and  all  persons  who  contract  irregular  marriages,  and  the  priests,  clerks, 
and  others  that  help  thereat,  are  cursed  for  the  same.  The  real  presence 
of  the  body  and  blood  of  our  Saviour  in  the  Sacrament  of  the  Altar  is  to 
be  fully  held ;  but  the  people  are  to  bear  in  mind  that  the  wine  and  water 
given  them  after  they  have  received  Communion  is  not  a  part  of  the 
Sacrament  It  is  an  important  thing  to  behave  reverently  in  church,  for 
the  church  is  God's  house,  not  a  place  for  idle  prattle.  When  people  go 
there  they  are  not  to  jest,  or  loll  against  the  pillars  and  walls,  but  kneel 
down  on  the  floor  and  pray  to  their  Lord  for  mercy  and  grace.  When  the 
Gospel  is  read  they  are  to  stand  up,  and  sign  themselves  with  the  cross  ; 
and  when  they  hear  the  Sanctus  bell  ring,  they  are  to  kneel  and  worship 
their  Maker  in  the  Blessed  Sacrament.  All  men  are  to  show  reverence 
when  they  see  the  priest  carrying  the  Host  to  the  sick.  He  is  to  teach 
them  the  "  Our  Father,"  and  "  Hail,  Mary,"  and  "  I  believe,"  of  which 
metrical  versions  are  given,  with  a  short  exposition  of  the  Creed. 

The  author  gives  some  very  interesting  instructions  about  churchyards, 
which  show  that  they  were  sometimes  treated  with  shameful  irreverence. 
It  was  not  for  want  of  good  instructions  that  our  ancestors,  in  the  days  of 
the  Plantagenets,  played  at  rustic  games,  and  that  the  gentry  held  their 
manorial  courts,  over  the  sleeping-places  of  the  dead. 

Of  witchcraft  we  hear  surprisingly  little.  Myrk's  words  are  such  that 
one  might  almost  think  he  had  some  sceptical  doubts  on  the  subject.  Not 
so  with  usury :  the  taking  interest  for  money,  or  lending  anything  to  get 
profit  thereby,  is,  we  are  shown,  "  a  synne  full  grevus." 

After  these  and  several  more  general  instructions  of  a  similar  character, 
the  author  gives  a  very  good  commentary  on  the  Creed,  the  Sacra- 
ments, the  Commandments,  and  the  deadly  sins.  The  little  tract  ends 
with  a  few  words  of  instruction  to  priests  as  to  the  "  manner  of  saying 
mass,  and  of  giving  Holy  Communion  to  the  sick."  On  several  subjects 
the  author  gives  very  detailed  instructions  and  advice  as  to  the  best  way 
of  dealing  with  people,  and  his  counsels  are  so  right  and  sensible,  that 
they  might  well  be  read  now,  not  out  of  mere  curiosity,  but  for  profit. 
Here  is  his  conclusion,  as  a  specimen  of  the  English  and  versification : — 

230  The  Secular  Clergy  of  the  Middle  Ages. 

"  Hyt  ys  I-made  hem*  to  schonne 
That  have  no  bokes  of  heref  owne, 
And  other  that  beth  of  mene  lore 
That  wolde  fayn  conne  J  more, 
And  those  that  here-in  learnest  most, 
Thonke  yerne  the  Holy  Gost, 
That  geveth  wyt  to  eche  mon 
To  do  the  gode  that  he  con, 
And  by  hys  travayle  and  hys  dede 
Geveth  hym  heven  to  hys  mede  ; 
The  mede  and  the  joye  of  heven  lyht 
God  us  graunte  for  hys  myht.     Amen." 

That  these  instructions  were  not  thrown  away  upon  the  mediaeval  parish 
priests  we  may  infer  from  Chaucer's  beautiful  description  of  the  poor  par- 
son of  a  town,  who  was  one  of  his  immortal  band  of  Canterbury  Pilgrims, 
which  we  here  give  as  a  fitting  conclusion  of  this  first  part  of  our  subject : 

"A  good  man  there  was  of  religioun, 
That  was  a  poure  persone  of  a  toun ; 
But  riche  he  was  of  holy  thought  and  werk. 
He  was  also  a  lerned  man,  a  clerk, 
That  Criste's  gospel  trewely  wolde  preche, 
His  parishens  devoutly  wolde  he  teche. 
Benigne  he  was  and  wonder  diligent, 
And  in  adversite  ful  patient ; 
And  such  he  was  yproved  often  sithes. 
Full  loth  were  he  to  cursen  for  his  tithes, 
But  rather  wolde  he  given  out  of  doubte 
Unto  his  poure  parishens  about, 
Of  his  offering  and  eke  of  his  substance. 
He  could  in  litel  thing  have  suffisance. 
Wide  was  his  parish,  and  houses  fer  asunder, 
But  he  ne  left  nought  for  no  rain  ne  thunder, 
In  sikenesse  and  in  mischief  to  visite 
The  farthest  in  his  parish  much  and  lite,§ 
Upon  his  fete,  and  in  his  hand  a  staff. 
This  noble  ensample  to  his  sheep  he  gaf  |) 
That  first  he  wrought,  and  afterward  he  taught. 
Out  of  the  gospel  he  the  wordes  caught, 
And  this  figure  he  added  yet  thereto, 
That  if  gold  ruste  what  should  iren  do  ? 

*  Them.  t  Their.  J  Know. 

J  Great  and  little.  ||  Gave. 

A  Mediaeval  Parish  Priest.  231 

For  if  a  priest  be  foul,  on  whom  we  trust, 
No  wonder  is  a  lewed  man  to  rust ; 
Well  ought  a  preest  ensample  for  to  give, 
By  his  clenenesse  how  his  shepe  shulde  live. 
He  sette  not  his  benefice  to  hire, 
And  lefte  his  sheep  accumbered  in  the  mire, 
And  ran  unto  London,  unto  Seint  Ponies, 
To  seeken  him  a  chanterie  for  souls, 
Or  with  a  brotherhede  to  be  withold, 
But  dwelt  at  home  and  kepte"  well  his  fold. 
He  was  a  shepherd  and  no  mercenare  ; 
And  though  he  holy  were  and  vertuous, 
He  was  to  sinful  men  not  despitous,  * 
Ne  of  his  speche"  dangerous  ne  digne,t 
But  in  his  teaching  discrete  and  benigne. 
To  drawen  folk  to  heaven  with  fairenesse, 
By  good  ensample  was  his  businesse. 
But  it  were  any  persone  obstinat, 
What  so  he  were  of  highe  or  low  estate, 
Him  wolde  he  snibbenj  sharply  for  the  nones, 
A  better  preest  I  trow  that  nowhere  none  is. 
He  waited  after  no  pomp  ne  reverence, 
Ne  maked  him  no  spiced§  conscience, 
But  Christes  lore,  and  his  apostles  twelve, 
He  taught,  but  first  he  followed  it  himselve." 

Thus,  monk,  and  friar,  and  hermit,  and  recluse,  and  rector,  and  chantry 
priest,  played  their  several  parts  in  mediaeval  society,  until  the  Reforma- 
tion came  and  swept  away  the  religious  orders  and  their  houses,  the 
chantry  priests  and  their  superstitions,  and  the  colleges  of  seculars, 
with  all  their  good  and  evil,  and  left  only  the  parish  churches  and  the 
parish  priests  remaining,  stripped  of  half  their  tithe,  and  insufficient  in 
number,  in  learning,  and  in  social  status  to  fulfil  the  office  of  the  ministry 
of  God  among  the  people.  Since  then,  for  three  centuries  the  people 
have  multiplied,  and  the  insufficiency  of  the  ministry  has  been  propor- 
tionately aggravated.  It  has  been  left  to  our  day  to  complete  the  work  of 
the  Reformation  by  multiplying  bishops  and  priests,  and  creating  an  order 
of  deacons,  re-distributing  the  ancient  revenues  and  supplying  what  more 
is  needed,  and  by  effecting  a  general  reorganization  of  the  ecclesiastical 
establishment  to  adapt  it  to  the  actual  spiritual  needs  of  the  people. 

*  Angry.  f  Difiicult  nor  proud.  J  Smite,  rebuke.        §  Scrupulous. 



E  proceed  to  give  some  notes  on  the  costume  of  the  secular  clergy  • 
first  the  official  costume  which  they  wore  when  performing  the 
public  functions  of  their  order,  and  next  the  ordinary  costume 
in  which  they  walked  about  their  parishes  and  took  part  in  the  daily  affairs 
of  the  mediaeval  society  of  which  they  formed  so  large  and  important  a 
part.  The  first  branch  of  this  subject  is  one  of  considerable  magnitude  ; 
it  can  hardly  be  altogether  omitted  in  such  a  series  of  papers  as  this, 
but  our  limited  space  requires  that  we  should  deal  with  it  as  briefly  as 
may  be. 

Representations  of  the  pope  occur  not  infrequently  in  ancient  paintings. 
His  costume  is  that  of  an  archbishop,  only  that  instead  of  the  usual  mitre 
he  wears  a  conical  tiara.  In  later  times  a  cross  with  three  crossbars 
has  been  used  by  artists  as  a  symbol  of  the  pope,  with  two  crossbars 
of  a  patriarch,  and  with  one  crossbar  of  an  archbishop ;  but  Dr.  Rock 
assures  us  that  the  pope  never  had  a  pastoral  staff  of  this  shape,  but  of  one 
crossbar  only ;  that  patriarchs  of  the  Eastern  Church  used  the  cross  of  two 
bars,  but  never  those  of  the  Western  Church ;  and  that  the  example  of 
Thomas-a-Becket  with  a  cross  of  two  bars,  in  Queen  Mary's  Psalter 
(Royal,  2  B.  vii.)  is  a  unique  example  (and  possibly  an  error  of  the 
artist's).  A  representation  of  Pope  Leo  III.  from  a  contemporary  picture 
is  engraved  in  the  "  Annales  Archaeologique,"  vol.  viil  p.  257  ;  another 
very  complete  and  clear  representation  of  the  pontifical  costume  of  the 
time  of  Innocent  III.  is  engraved  by  Dr.  Rock  ("  Church  of  our  Fathers," 
p.  467)  from  a  fresco  painting  at  Subiaco,  near  Rome.     Another  represents 

Costume  of  Pope  and  Cardinals. 


tion,  of  late  thirteenth-century  date,  is  given  in  the  famous  MS.  called  the 
"  Psalter  of  Queen  Mary,"  in  the  British  Museum  (Royal,  2  B.  vii.) ;  there 
the  pope  is  in  nothing  more  than  ordinary  episcopal  costume — alb,  tunic, 
chasuble,  without  the  pall — and  holds  his  cross-staff  of  only  one  bar  in 
his  right  hand,  and  his  canonical  tiara  has  one  crown  round  the  base. 
Beside  him  stands  a  bishop  in  the  same  costume,  except  that  he  wears 

Pope,  Cardinal,  and  Bishop. 

the  mitre  and  holds  a  crook.  A  good  fourteenth-century  representation  of 
a  pope  and  cardinals  is  in  the  MS.  August.  V.  f.  459.  We  give  a  woodcut 
of  the  fifteenth  century,  from  a  MS.  life  of  Richard  Beauchamp,  Earl  of 
Warwick,  in  the  British  Museum  (Julius  E.  iv.  f.  207) ;  the  subject  is  the 
presentation  of  the  pilgrim  earl  to  the  pope,  and  it  enables  us  to  bring 
into  one  view  the  costumes  of  pope,  cardinal,  and  bishop.     A  later  picture 

234  The  Secular  Clergy  of  the  Middle  Ages. 

of  considerable  artistic  merit  may  be  found  in  Hans  Burgmair's  "  Der 
Weise  Konig,"  where  the  pope,  officiating  at  a  royal  marriage,  is  habited  in 
a  chasuble,  and  has  the  three  crowns  on  his  tiara. 

The  cardinalate  is  not  an  ecclesiastical  "  order."  Originally  the  name 
was  applied  to  the  priests  of  the  chief  churches  of  Rome,  who  formed 
the  chapter  of  the  Bishop  of  Rome.  In  later  times  they  were  the 
princes  of  the  papal  sovereignty,  and  the  dignity  was  conferred  not 
only  upon  the  highest  order  of  the  hierarchy,  but  upon  priests,  deacons,* 
and  even  upon  men  who  had  only  taken  minor  orders  to  qualify  them- 
selves for  holding  office  in  the  papal  kingdom.  The  red  hat,  which  became 
their  distinctive  symbol,  is  said  to  have  been  given  them  first  by  Inno- 
cent VI.  at  the  Council  of  Lyons  in  1245  ;  and  De  Curbio  says  they  first 
wore  it  in  1246,  at  the  interview  between  the  pope  and  Louis  IX.  of 
France.  A  representation  of  it  may  be  seen  in  the  MS.  Royal,  16  G.  vi., 
which  is  engraved  in  the  "  Pictorial  History  of  England,"  vol.  i.  869. 
Another  very  clear  and  good  representation  of  the  costume  of  a  cardinal 
is  in  the  plate  in  Hans  Burgmair's  "  Der  Weise  Konig,"  already  men- 
tioned ;  a  group  of  them  is  on  the  right  side  of  the  drawing,  each  with  a 
fur-lined  hood  on  his  head,  and  his  hat  over  the  hood.  It  is  not  the  hat 
which  is  peculiar  to  cardinals,  but  the  colour  of  it,  and  the  number  of  its 
tassels.  Other  ecclesiastics  wore  the  hat  of  the  same  shape,  but  only  a 
cardinal  wears  it  of  scarlet.  Moreover,  a  priest  wore  only  one  tassel  to 
each  string,  a  bishop  three,  a  cardinal  seven.  It  was  not  the  hat  only 
which  was  scarlet.  Wolsey,  we  read,  was  in  the  habit  of  dressing  entirely 
in  scarlet  for  his  ordinary  costume.  In  the  Decretals  of  Pope  Gregory,  Royal, 
10  E.  iv.  f.  3  v.,  are  representations  of  cardinals  in  red  gown  and  hood 
and  hat.     On  the  following  page  they  are  represented,  in  pontificalibus. 

The  archbishop  wore  the  habit  of  a  bishop,  his  differences  being  in  the 
crosier  and  pall.f     His  crozier  had  a  cross  head  instead  of  a  curved  head 

•  Cardinal  Otho,  the  Papal  legate  in  England  in  the  time  of  Henry  III.,  was  a  deacon 
(Matthew  Paris,  Sub.  Ann.  1237) ;  Cardinal  Pandulph,  in  King  John's  time,  was  a 
sub-deacon  (R.  "Wendover,  Sub.  Ann.  12 12). 

t  There  is  a  very  fine  drawing  of  an  archbishop  in  pontificalibus  of  the  latter  part  of 
the  thirteenth  century  in  the  MS.  Royal,  2  A.  f.  219  v. 

Costume  of  Bishops.  235 

like  the  bishop's.  Over  the  chasuble  he  wore  the  pall,  which  was  a  flat 
circular  band,  or  collar,  placed  loosely  round  the  shoulders,  with  long  ends 
hanging  down  behind  and  before,  made  of  lambs'  wool,  and  marked  with 
a  number  of  crosses.  Dr.  Rock  has  engraved*  two  remarkably  interesting 
early  representations  of  archbishops  of  Ravenna,  in  which  a  very  early  form 
of  the  pontifical  garments  is  given,  viz.,  the  sandals,  alb,  stole,  tunic,  cha- 
suble, pall,  and  tonsure.  They  are  not  represented  with  either  mitre  or 
staff.  Other  representations  of  archbishops  may  be  found  of  the  eleventh 
century  in  the  Bayeux  tapestry,  and  of  the  thirteenth  in  the  Royal  MS., 
2  B.  vii.  In  the  Froissart  MS.,  Harl.  4,380,  at  f.  170,  is  a  fifteenth-century 
representation  of  the  Archbishop  of  Canterbury  in  ordinary  dress — a 
lavender-coloured  gown  and  red  liripipe. 

The  bishop  wore  the  same  habit  as  the  priest,  with  the  addition  of 
sandals,  gloves,  a  ring,  the  pastoral  staff  with  a  curved  head,  and  the  mitre. 
The  chasuble  was  only  worn  when  celebrating  the  Holy  Communion  ;  on 
any  other  ceremonial  occasion  the  cope  was  worn,  e.g.y  when  in  choir,  as  in 
the  woodcut  on  p.  197  :  or  when  preaching,  as  in  a  picture  in  the  Harl.  MS. 
131 9,  engraved  in  the  "  Pictorial  History  of  England,"  vol.  i.  806 ;  or  when 
attending  parliament.  In  illuminated  MSS.  bishops  are  very  commonly 
represented  dressed  in  alb  and  cope  only,  and  this  seems  to  have  been 
their  most  usual  habit.  If  the  bishop  were  a  monk  or  friar  he  wore  the 
cope  over  the  robe  proper  to  his  order.  We  might  multiply  indefinitely 
references  to  representations  of  bishops  and  other  ecclesiastics  in  the  illu- 
minated MS.  We  will  content  ourselves  with  one  reference  to  a  beauti- 
fully drawn  figure  in  the  psalter  of  the  close  of  the  14th  century  (Harl. 
2,897,  f-  38°)*  In  the  early  fourteenth-century  MS.  (Royal,  14  E. 
iii.  at  ff.  16  and  25),  we  find  two  representations  of  a  bishop  in  what  we 
may  suppose  was  his  ordinary  unofficial  costume ;  he  wears  a  blue-grey 
robe  and  hood  with  empty  falling  sleeves,  through  which  appear  the  blue 
sleeves  of  his  under  robe ;  it  is  the  ordinary  civil  and  clerical  costume  of 
the  period,  but  he  is  marked  out  as  a  bishop  by  a  white  mitre.  In  the 
Pontifical  of  the  middle  of  the  fifteenth  century,  already  referred  to  (Eger- 

•  "  Church  of  our  Fathers,"  i.  319. 

236  The  Secular  Clergy  of  the  Middle  Ages. 

ton,  1067)  at  f.  186  in  the  representation  of  the  ceremony  of  the  feet-washing, 
the  bishop  in  a  long  black  sleeveless  robe*  over  a  white  alb,  and  a  biretta. 

The  earliest  form  of  the  mitre  was  that  of  a  simple  cap,  like  a  skull-cap, 
of  which  there  is  a  representation,  giving  in  many  respects  a  clear  and 
elaborate  picture  of  the  episcopal  robes,  in  a  woodcut  of  St.  Dunstan  in 
the  MS.  Cotton,  Claudius  A.  hit  In  this  early  shape  it  has  already  the 
infulse — two  narrow  bands  hanging  down  behind.  In  the  twelfth  century 
it  is  in  the  form  of  a  large  cap,  with  a  depression  in  the  middle,  which 
produces  two  blunt  horns  at  the  sides.  There  is  a  good  representation 
of  this  in  the  MS.  Cotton,  Nero  C.  iv.  f.  34,  which  has  been  engraved  by 
Strutt,  Shaw,  and  Dr.  Rock 

In  the  Harl.  MS.  5,102,  f.  17,  is  a  picture  of  the  entombment  of  an  arch- 
bishop, in  which  is  well  shown  the  transition  shape  of  the  mitre  from  the 
twelfth  century,  already  described,  to  the  cleft  and  pointed  shape  which 
was  used  in  the  thirteenth  and  fourteenth  centuries.  The  depression  is 
here  deepened  into  a  partial  cleft,  and  the  mitre  is  put  on  so  that  the  horns 
come  before  and  behind,  instead  of  at  the  sides,  but  the  horns  are  still 
blunt  and  rounded.  The  archbishop's  gloves  in  this  picture  are  white,  like 
the  mitre,  and  in  shape  are  like  mittens,  i.e.,  not  divided  into  fingers. 

The  shape  in  the  thirteenth  and  fourteenth  century  presented  a  stiff  low 
triangle  in  front  and  behind,  with  a  gap  between  them.  It  is  well  shown 
in  a  MS.  of  the  close  of  the  twelfth  century,  Harl.  2,800,  f.  6,  and,  in  a 
shape  a  little  further  developed,  in  the  pictures  in  the  Royal  MS.,  2  B.  vii., 
already  noticed.  In  the  fifteenth  century  the  mitre  began  to  be  made 
taller,  and  with  curved  sides,  as  seen  in  the  beautiful  woodcut  of  a  bishop 
and  his  canons  in  choir  given  in  our  last  chapter,  p.  197.  The  latest  example 
in  the  English  Church  is  in  the  brass  of  Archbishop  Harsnett,  in  Chig- 
well  Church,  in  which  also  occur  the  latest  examples  of  the  alb,  stole, 
dalmatic,  and  cope. 

The  pastoral  staff  also  varied  in  shape  at  different  times.     The  earliest 

*  In  a  Spansh  Book  of  Hours  (Add.  18 19 — 3),  at  f.  86  v.,  is  a  representation  of  an 
ecclesiastic  in  a  similar  robe  of  dark  purple  with  a  hood,  he  wears  a  cardinal's  hat  and 
holds  a  papal  tiara  in  his  hand. 

t  Engraved  by  Dr.  Rock,  ii.  97. 

The  Pastoral  Staff.  237 

examples  of  it  are  in  the  representations  of  St.  Mark  and  St.  Luke,*  in  the 
"  Gospels  of  MacDurnan,"  in  the  Lambeth  Library,  a  work  of  the  middle 
of  the  ninth  century.  St.  Luke's  staff  is  short,  St.  Mark's  longer  than  him- 
self ;  in  both  cases  the  staff  terminates  with  a  plain,  slightly  reflexed  curve 
of  about  three-fourths  of  a  circle.  Some  actual  examples  of  the  meta! 
heads  of  these  Celtic  pastoral  staves  remain  ;  one  is  engraved  in  the 
"  Archseologia  Scotica,"  vol.  ii.,  another  is  in  the  British  Museum ;  that  of 
the  abbots  of  Clonmacnoise,  and  that  of  the  ancient  bishops  of  Waterford, 
are  in  the  possession  of  the  Duke  of  Devonshire.  They  were  all  brought 
together  in  1863  in  the  Loan  Exhibition  at  South  Kensington.  One  of 
the  earliest  English  representations  of  the  staff  is  in  the  picture  of  the  con- 
secration of  a  church,  in  a  MS.  of  the  ninth  century,  in  the  Rouen  Library, 
engraved  in  the  "  Archaeologia,"  vol  xxv.  p.  17,  in  the  "  Pictorial  History 
of  England,"  and  by  Dr.  Rock,  ii.  p.  24.  Here  the  staff  is  about  the 
length  of  an  ordinary  walking-stick,  and  is  terminated  by  a  round  knob. 

Odo,  Bishop  of  Bayeux,  is  represented  on  his  great  seal  with  a  short 
staff,  with  a  tau-cross  or  crutch  head.  An  actually  existing  staff  of  this 
shape,  which  belonged  to  Gerard,  Bishop  of  Limoges,  who  died  in  1022, 
is  engraved  in  the  "  Annales  Archseologique,"  vol.  x.  p.  176.  The  staves 
represented  in  illuminations  of  the  twelfth  and  thirteenth  centuries  have 
usually  a  plain  spiral  curve  of  rather  more  than  a  circle  ;t  in  later  times 
they  were  ornamented  with  foliage,  and  sometimes  with  statuettes,  and 
were  enamelled  and  jewelled.  Numerous  representations  and  actual 
examples  exist;  some  may  be  seen  in  the  South  Kensington  Museum. 
From  early  in  the  fourteenth  century  downward,  a  napkin  of  linen  or  silk 
is  often  found  attached  by  one  corner  to  the  head  of  the  staff,  whose  origin 
and  meaning  seem  to  be  undetermined. 

The  official  costume  of  the  remaining  orders,  together  with  the  symbols 
significant  of  their  several  offices,  are  well  brought  out  in  the  degradation 
of  W.  Sawtre,  already  given  at  p.  214. 

Some  of  the  vestments  there  mentioned  may  need  a  few  words  of  explana- 

*  Engraved  in  the  Archaeological  Journal,  vii.  17  and  19. 

t  A  plain  straight  staff  is  sometimes  seen  in  illuminations  being  put  into  a  bishop's 
grave  ;  such  staves  have  been  actually  found  in  the  coffins  of  bishops. 

238  The  Secular  Clergy  of  the  Middle  Ages. 

tion.  The  alb  was  a  kind  of  long  coat  with  close  fitting  sleeves  made  of 
white*  linen,  and  usually,  at  least  during  the  celebration  of  divine  service, 
ornamented  with  four  to  six  square  pieces  of  cloth  of  gold,  or  other  rich 
stuff,  or  of  goldsmith's  work,  which  were  placed  on  the  skirt  before  and 
behind,  on  the  wrist  of  each  sleeve,  and  on  the  back  and  breast.  The 
dalmatic  of  the  deacon  was  a  kind  of  tunic,  reaching  generally  a  little 
below  the  knees,  and  slit  some  way  up  the  sides,  and  with  short,  broad 
sleeves  ;  it  was  usually  ornamented  with  a  broad  hem,  which  passed  round 
the  side  slits.  The  sub-deacon's  tunicle  was  like  the  dalmatic,  but  rather 
shorter,  and  less  ornamented.  The  cope  was  a  kind  of  cloak,  usually  of 
rich  material,  fastened  across  the  chest  by  a  large  brooch  ;  it  was  worn  by 
priests  in  choir  and  in  processions,  and  on  other  occasions  of  state  and 
ceremony.  The  chasuble  was  the  Eucharistic  vestment ;  originally  it  was 
a  circle  of  rich  cloth  with  a  slit  in  the  middle,  through  which  the  head 
was  passed,  and  then  it  fell  in  ample  folds  all  round  the  figure.  Gradu- 
ally it  was  made  oval  in  shape,  continually  decreasing  in  width,  so  as  to 
leave  less  of  the  garment  to  encumber  the  arms.  In  its  modern  shape  it 
consists  of  two  stiff  rectangular  pieces  of  cloth,  one  piece  falling  before,  the 
other  behind,  and  fastened  together  at  the  shoulders  of  the  wearer.  The 
ancient  inventories  of  cathedrals,  abbeys,  and  churches  show  us  that  the 
cope  and  chasuble  were  made  in  every  colour,  of  every  rich  material,  and 
sometimes  embroidered  and  jewelled.  Indeed,  all  the  official  robes  of  the 
clergy  were  of  the  costliest  material  and  most  beautiful  workmanship  which 
could  be  obtained.  England  was  celebrated  for  its  skill  in  the  arts  em- 
ployed in  their  production,  and  an  anecdote  of  the  time  of  Henry  III. 
shows  us  that  the  English  ecclesiastical  vestments  excited  admiration  and 
cupidity  even  at  Rome.  Their  richness  had  nothing  to  do  with  personal 
pride  or  luxury  on  the  part  of  the  priests.  They  were  not  the  property 
of  the  clergy,  but  were  generally  presented  to  the  churches,  to  which  they 
belonged  in  perpetuity ;  and  they  were  made  thus  costly  on  the  principle 
of  honouring  the  divine  worship.    As  men  gave  their  costliest  material  and 

*  The  alb  was  often  of  coloured  materials.  We  find  coloured  albs  in  the  mediaeval 
inventories.  In  Louandre's  "  Arts  Somptuaires,"  vol.  i.  xi.  siecle,  is  a  picture  of  the 
canons  of  St.  Martin  of  Tours  in  blue  albs.     Their  costume  is  altogether  worth  notice. 

Costume  of  Deacon  and  Sub- Deacon,  239 

noblest  Art  for  the  erection  of  the  place  in  which  it  was  offered,  so  also  for 
the  appliances  used  in  its  ministration,  and  the  robes  of  the  ministrants. 

In  full  sacerdotal  habit  the  priests  wore  the  apparelled  alb,  and  stole, 
and  over  that  the  dalmatic,  and  either  the  cope  or  the  chasuble  over  all, 
with  the  amys  thrown  back  like  a  hood  over  the  cope  or  chasuble.  Repre- 
sentations of  priests  in  pontificalibus  abound  in  illuminated  MCS.,  and  in 
their  monumental  effigies,  to  such  an  extent  that  we  need  hardly  quote  any 
particular  examples.  Representations  of  the  inferior  orders  are  compara- 
tively rare.  Examples  of  deacons  may  be  found  engraved  in  Dr.  Rock's 
"  Church  of  our  Fathers,"  i.  376,  378,  379,  443,  and  444.  Two  others  of 
early  fourteenth-century  date  may  be  found  in  the  Add.  MS.  10,294,  f.  72, 
one  wearing  a  dalmatic  of  cloth  of  gold,  the  other  of  scarlet,  over  the  alb. 
Two  others  of  the  latter  part  of  the  fourteenth  century  are  seen  in  King 
Richard  II.'s  Book  of  Hours  (Dom.  A.  xvii.  f.  176),  one  in  blue  dalmatic 
embroidered  with  gold,  the  other  red  embroidered  with  gold.  A  monu- 
mental effigy  of  a  deacon  under  a  mural  arch  at  Avon  Dassett,  Warwick- 
shire, was  referred  to  by  Mr.  M.  H.  Bloxam,  in  a  recent  lecture  at  the 
Architectural  Museum,  South  Kensington.  The  effigy,  which  is  of  the 
thirteenth  century,  is  in  alb,  stole,  and  dalmatic.  We  are  indebted  to 
Mr.  Bloxam  for  a  note  of  another  mutilated  effigy  of  a  deacon  of  the  four- 
teenth century  among  the  ruins  of  Furness  Abbey ;  he  is  habited  in  the 
alb  only,  with  a  girdle  round  the  middle,  whose  tasselled  knobs  hang  down 
in  front.  The  stole  is  passed  across  the  body  from  the  left  shoulder,  and 
is  fastened  together  at  the  right  hip. 

Dr.  Rock,  vol.  i.  p.  384,  engraves  a  very  good  representation  of  a  ninth- 
century  sub-deacon  in  his  tunicle,  holding  a  pitcher  in  one  hand  and  an 
empty  chalice  in  the  other ;  and  in  vol.  ii.  p.  89,  an  acolyte,  in  what 
seems  to  be  a  surplice,  with  a  scarlet  hood — part  of  his  ordinary  costume 
— over  it,  the  date  of  the  drawing  being  dr.  1395  a.d.  We  have  already 
noted  the  costume  of  an  ostiary  at  p.  215.  In  the  illuminations  we 
frequently  find  an  inferior  minister  attending  upon  a  priest  when  engaged 
in  his  office,  but  in  many  cases  it  is  difficult  to  determine  whether  he 
is  deacon,  sub-deacon,  or  acolyte,  e.g. — in  the  early  fourteenth-century 
MS.,  Add.  10,294,  at  f.  72,  is  a  priest  officiating  at  a  funeral,  attended  by  a 


The  Secular  Clergy  of  the  Middle  Ages. 

minister,  who  is  habited  in  a  pink  under  robe — his  ordinary  dress — and 
over  it  a  short  white  garment  with  wide  loose  sleeves,  which  may  be  either 
a  deacon's  dalmatic,  or  a  sub-deacon's  tunic,  or  an  acolyte's  surplice.  In 
the  Add.  MS.  10,293,  at  f.  154,  is  a  representation  of  a  priest  celebrating 
mass  in  a  hermitage,  with  a  minister  kneeling  behind  him,  habited  in  a 
white  alb  only,  holding  a  lighted  taper.  Again,  in  the  MS.  Royal, 
14  E.  hi.  f.  86,  is  a  picture  of  a  prior  dressed  like  some   0/  the  canons  in 

Coronation  Procession  of  Charles  V.  of  France. 

our  woodcut  from  Richard  II.'s  Book  of  Hours,  in  a  blue  under  robe, 
white  surplice,  and  red  stole  crossed  over  the  breast,  and  his  furred  hood 
on  his  head ;  he  is  baptizing  a  heathen  king,  and  an  attendant  minister, 
who  is  dressed  in  the  ordinary  secular  habit  of  the  time,  stands  beside, 
holding  the  chrismatory.  In  the  same  history  of  Richard  Earl  of  Warwick 
which  we  have  already  quoted,  there  is  at  f.  213  v.,  a  boy  in  a  short 
surplice  with  a  censer.  In  the  early  fourteenth-century  MS.,  Royal, 
14  E.  iii.  at  f.  84  v.,  is  a  picture   of  a  bishop  anointing  a  king;    an 

Ordinary  Dress  of  the  Clergy.  241 

attendant  minister,  who  carries  a  holy  water  vessel  and  aspersoir,  is 
dressed  in  a  surplice  over  a  pink  tunic.  The  surplice  is  found  in  almost 
as  many  and  as  different  shapes  in  the  Middle  Ages  as  now ;  sometimes 
with  narrow  sleeves  and  tight  up  to  the  neck  ;  sometimes  with  shorter  and 
wider  sleeves  and  falling  low  at  the  neck ;  sometimes  longer  and  sometimes 
shorter  in  the  skirt;  never,  however,  so  long  as  altogether  to  hide  the 
cassock  beneath.  In  addition  to  the  references  already  given,  it  may  be 
sufficient  to  name  as  further  authorities  for  ecclesiastical  costumes  gene- 
rally : — for  Saxon  times,  the  Benedictional  of  St.  Ethelwold,  engraved  in 
the  Archagologia ;  for  the  thirteenth  century,  Queen  Mary's  Psalter,  Royal, 
2  B.  vii. ;  for  the  fourteenth,  Royal,  20,  c.  vii. ;  for  the  fifteenth  century, 
Lydgate's  "  Life  of  St.  Edmund ; "  for  the  sixteenth  century,  Hans  Burg- 
maier's  "  Der  Weise  Konig,"  and  the  various  works  on  sepulchral  monu- 
ments and  monumental  brasses. 

The  accompanying  woodcut  from  CoL  Johnes's  Froissart,  vol.  i.  p.  635, 
representing  the  coronation  procession  of  Charles  V.  of  France,  will  help 
us  to  exhibit  some  of  the  orders  of  the  clergy  with  their  proper  costume 
and  symbols.  First  goes  the  aquabajalus,  in  alb,  sprinkling  holy  water ; 
then  a  cross-bearer  in  cassock  and  surplice ;  then  two  priests,  in  cassock, 
surplice,  and  cope ;  then  follows  a  canon  in  his  cap  (biretta),  with  his 
furred  amys  over  his  arm.*. 

But  the  clergy  wore  these  robes  only  when  actually  engaged  in  some 
official  act  What  was  their  ordinary  costume  is  generally  little  known, 
and  it  is  a  part  of  the  subject  in  which  we  are  especially  interested  in  these 
papers.  From  the  earliest  times  of  the  English  Church  downwards  it  was 
considered  by  the  rulers  of  the  Church  that  clergymen  ought  to  be  dis- 
tinguished from  laymen  not  only  by  the  tonsure,  but  also  by  their  dress. 
We  do  not  find  that  any  uniform  habit  was  prescribed  to  them,  such  as 
distinguished  the  regular  orders  of  monks  and  friars  from  the  laity,  and 
from  one  another ;  but  we  gather  from  the  canons  of  synods,  and  the 
injunctions  of  bishops,  that  the  clergy  were  expected  to  wear  their  clothes 

*  For  another  ecclesiastical  procession  which  shows  very  clearly  the  costnmf-  of  the 
rarious  orders  of  clergy,  see  Achille  Jubinal's  "  Anciennes  Tapisseries,"  plate  ii. 


242  The  Secular  Clergy  of  the  Middle  Ages. 

not  too  gay  in  colour,  and  not  too  fashionably  cut;  that  they  were  to 
abstain  from  wearing  ornaments  or  carrying  arms ;  and  that  their  horse 
furniture  was  to  be  in  the  same  severe  style.  We  also  gather  from  the 
frequent  repetition  of  canons  on  the  subject,  and  the  growing  earnestness 
of  their  tone,  that  these  injunctions  were  very  generally  disregarded.  We 
need  not  take  the  reader  through  the  whole  series  of  authorities  which 
may  be  found  in  the  various  collections  of  councils ;  a  single  quota- 
tion from  the  injunctions  of  John  (Stratford)  Archbishop  of  Canterbury, 
a.d.  1342,  will  suffice  to  give  us  a  comprehensive  sketch  of  the  general 
contents  of  the  whole  series. 

"  The  external  costume  often  shows  the  internal  character  and  condi- 
tion of  persons;  and  though  the  behaviour  of  clerks  ought  to  be  an 
example  and  pattern  of  the  laity,  yet  the  abuse  of  clerks,  which  has  gained 
ground  more  than  usually  in  these  days  in  tonsures,  in  garments,  in  horse 
trappings,  and  other  things,  has  now  generated  an  abominable  scandal 
among  the  people,  while  persons  holding  ecclesiastical  dignities,  rectories, 
honourable  prebends,  and  benefices  with  cure  of  souls,  even  when  ordained 
to  holy  orders,  scorn  to  wear  the  crown  (which  is  the  token  of  the  heavenly 
kingdom  and  of  perfection),  and,  using  the  distinction  of  hair  extended 
almost  to  the  shoulders  like  effeminate  persons,  walk  about  clothed  in  a 
military  rather  than  a  clerical  outer  habit,  viz.,  short,  or  notably  scant,  and 
with  excessively  wide  sleeves,  which  do  not  cover  the  elbows,  but  hang 
down,  lined,  or,  as  they  say,  turned  up  with  fur  or  silk,  and  hoods  with 
tippets  of  wonderful  length,  and  with  long  beards ;  and  rashly  dare,  con- 
trary to  the  canonical  sanctions,  to  use  rings  indifferently  on  their  fingers ; 
and  to  be  girt  with  zones,  studded  with  precious  stones  of  wonderful  size 
with  purses  engraved  with  various  figures,  enamelled  and  gilt,  and  attached 
to  them  (i.e.  to  the  girdle),  with  knives,  hanging  after  the  fashion  of  swords, 
also  with  buskins  red  and  even  checked,  green  shoes  and  peaked  and  cut* 
in  many  ways,  with  cruppers  (croj>eriis)  to  their  saddles,  and  horns  hang- 
ing to  their  necks,  capes  and  cloaks  furred  openly  at  the  edges  to  such  an 
extent,  that  little  or  no  distinction  appears  of  clerks  from  laymen,  whereby 

*  Incisis,  cut  and  slashed  so  as  to  show  the  lining. 

Ordinary  Dress  of  the  Clergy.  243 

they  render  themselves,  through  their  demerits,  unworthy  of  the  privilege 
of  their  order  and  profession. 

"  We  therefore,  wishing  henceforward  to  prevent  such  errors,  &c,  com- 
mand and  ordain,  that  whoever  obtain  ecclesiastical  benefices  in  our 
province,  especially  if  ordained  to  holy  orders,  wear  clerical  garments  and 
tonsure  suitable  to  their  status;  but  if  any  clerks  of  our  province  go 
publicly  in  an  outer  garment  short,  or  notably  scant,  or  in  one  with  long 
or  excessively  wide  sleeves,  not  touching  the  elbow  round  about,  but 
hanging,  with  untonsured  hair  and  long  beard,  or  publicly  wear  their  rings 
on  their  fingers,  &c,  if,  on  admonition,  they  do  not  reform  within  six 
months,  they  shall  be  suspended,  and  shall  only  be  absolved  by  their 
diocesan,  and  then  only  on  condition  that  they  pay  one-fifth  of  a  year's 
income  to  the  poor  of  the  place  through  the  diocesan,"  &c,  &c 

The  authorities  tried  to  get  these  canons  observed.  Grostete  sent  back 
a  curate  who  came  to  him  for  ordination  "  dressed  in  rings  and  scarlet  like 
a  courtier."  *  Some  of  the  vicars  of  York  Cathedral  \  were  presented  in 
1362  a.d.  for  being  in  the  habit  of  going  through  the  city  in  short  tunics, 
ornamentally  trimmed,  with  knives  and  baselards  \  hanging  at  their  girdles. 
But  the  evidence  before  us  seems  to  prove  that  it  was  not  only  the  aco- 
lyte-rectors, and  worldly-minded  clerics,  who  indulged  in  such  fashions, 
but  that  the  secular  clergy  generally  resisted  these  endeavours  to  impose 
upon  them  anything  approaching  to  a  regular  habit  like  those  worn  by 
the  monks  and  friars,  and  persisted  in  refusing  to  wear  sad  colours,  or  to 
cut  their  coats  differently  from  other  people,  or  to  abstain  from  wearing  a 
gold  ring  or  an  ornamented  girdle.  In  the  drawings  of  the  secular 
clergy  in  the  illuminated  MSS.,  we  constantly  find  them  in  the  ordinary 
civil  costume.  Even  in  representations  of  the  different  orders  and  ranks 
of  the  secular  clergy  drawn  by  friendly  hands,  and  intended  to  represent 
them  comme  ilfaut,  we  find  them  dressed  in  violation  of  the  canons. 

*  Monumenta  Franciscana,  Ixxxix.     Master  of  the  Rolls'  publications, 
t  York  Fabric  Rolls,  p.  243. 

\  This  word,  which  will  frequently  occur,  means  a  kind  of  ornamental  dagger,  which 
was  worn  hanging  at  the  girdle  in  front  by  civilians,  and  knights  when  out  of  armour. 
The  instructions  to  parish  priests,  already  quoted,  says — 

In  honeste  clothes  thow  muste  gon 
Baseiard  ny  bawdry  ke  were  thou 


The  Secular  Clergy  of  the  Middle  Ages, 

We  have  already  had  occasion  to  notice  a  bishop  in  a  blue-grey  gown 
and  hood,  over  a  blue  under-robe ;  and  a  prior  performing  a  royaljbaptism, 
and  canons  performing  service  under  the  presidency  of  their  bishop,  with 
the  blue  and  red  robes  of  every-day  life  under  their  ritual  surplices.  The 
MSS.  furnish  us  with  an  abundance  of  other  examples,  eg. — In  the  early 
fourteenth-century  MS.,  Add.  10,293,  at  £  I3I  v->  *s  a  picture  showing 
"  how  the  priests  read  before  the  barony  che  letter  which  the  false  queen 
sent  to  Arthur."  One  of  the  persons  thus  described  as  priests  has  a  blue 
gown  and  hood  and  black  shoes,  the  other  a  claret-coloured  gown  and  hood 
and  red  shoes. 

But  our  best  examples  are  those  in  the  book  (Cott.  Nero  D.  vii.)  before 

quoted,  in  which  the  grateful  monks  of  St. 
Alban's  have  recorded  the  names  and  good 
deeds  of  those  who  had  presented  gifts  or 
done  services  to  the  convent.  In  many 
cases  the  scribe  has  given  us  a  portrait  of 
the  benefactor  in  the  margin  of  the  record ; 
and  these  portraits  supply  us  with  an 
authentic  gallery  of  typical  portraits  of  the 
various  orders  of  society  of  the  time  at 
which  they  were  executed.  From  these 
we  have  taken  the  three  examples  we  here 
present  to  the  reader.  On  f.  100  v.  is  a 
portrait  of  one  Lawrence,  a  clerk,  who  is 
dressed  in  a  brown  robe ;  another  clerk, 
William  by  name,  is  in  a  scarlet  robe  and 
hood;  on  f.  93  v.,  Leofric,  a  deacon,  is 
in  a  blue  robe  and  hood.  The  accom- 
panying woodcut,  from  folio  105,  is  Dns. 
Ricardus  de  Threton,  sacerdos, — Sir  Richard  de  Threton,  priest, — who 
was  executor  of  Sir  Robert  de  Thorp,  knight,  formerly  chancellor  of  the 
king,  and  who  gave  twenty  marks  to  the  convent.  Our  woodcut 
gives  only  the  outlines  of  the  full-length  portrait.  In  the  original  the 
robe  and  hood  are  of  full  bright  blue,  lined  with  white  ;  the  under  sleeves, 

Dns.  Ricardusde  Threton,  Sacerdos. 

Ordinary  Dress  of  the  Clergy. 


which  appear  at  the  wrists,  are  of  the  same  colour ;  and  the  shoes  are  red. 
At  f.  106  v.  is  Dns.  Bartholomeus  de  Wendone,  rector  of  the  church  of 
Thakreston,  and  the  character  of  the  face  leads  us  to  think  that  it  may 
have  been  intended  for  a  portrait.  His  robe  and  hood  and  sleeves  are 
scarlet,  with  black  shoes.  Another  rector,  Dns.  Johannes  Rodland  (at 
f.  105),  rector  of  the  church  of  Todyngton,  has  a  green  robe  and  scarlet 
hood.  Still  another  rector,  of  the  church  of  Little  Waltham,  is  represented 
half-length  in  pink  gown  and  purple  hood.  On  f.  108  v.  is  the  full- 
length  portrait  which  is  here  represented.    It  is  of  Dns.  Rogerus,  chaplain 


Dns.  Barth.  de  Wendone,  Rector.  Dns.  Rogerus,  Capellanus. 

of  the  chapel  of  the  Earl  of  Warwick,  at  Flamsted.  Over  a  scarlet  gown, 
of  the  same  fashion  as  those  in  the  preceding  pictures,  is  a  pink  cloak  lined 
with  blue ;  the  hood  is  scarlet,  of  the  same  suit  as  the  gown ;  the  buttons 
at  the  shoulder  of  the  cloak  are  white,  the  shoes  red.  It  will  be  seen  also 
that  all  three  of  these  clergymen  wear  the  moustache  and  beard. 

Dominus  Robertas  de  Walsham,  precentor  of  Sarum  (f.  100  v.),  is  in 
his  choir  habit,  a  white  surplice,  and  over  it  a  fur  amys  fastened  at  the 
throat  with  a  brooch.     Dns.  Robertas   de  Hereforde,  Dean  of  Sarum 


The  Secular  Clergy  of  the  Middle  Ages, 

(f.  101),  has  a  lilac  robe  and  hood  fastened  by  a  gold  brooch.  There  is 
another  dean,  Magister  Johnnes  Appleby,  Dean  of  St.  Paul's,  at  f.  105, 
whose  costume  is  not  very  distinctly  drawn.  It  may  be  necessary  to 
assure  some  of  our  readers,  that  the  colours  here  described  were  not  given 
at  the  caprice  of  a  limner  wishing  to  make  his  page  look  gay.  The  portraits 
were  perhaps  imaginary,  but  the  personages  are  habited  in  the  costume 
proper  to  their  rank  and  order.     The  series  of  Benedictine  abbots  and 

John  Ball,  Priest. 

monks  in  the  same  book  are  in  black  robes  ;  other  monks  introduced  are 
in  the  proper  habit  of  their  order ;  a  king  in  his  royal  robes ;  a  knight 
sometimes  in  armour,  sometimes  in  the  civil  costume  of  his  rank,  with  a 
sword  by  his  side,  and  a  chaplet  round  his  flowing  hair ;  a  lady  in  the 
fashionable  dress  of  the  time ;  a  burgher  in  his  proper  habit,  with  his  hair 
cut  short.  And  so  the  clergy  are  represented  in  the  dress  which  they 
usually  wore ;  and,  for  our  purpose,  the  pictures  are  more  valuable  than  if 
they  were  actual  portraits  of  individual  peculiarities  of  costume,  because 
we  are  the  more  sure  that  they  give  us  the  usual  and  recognised  costume 
of  the   several   characters.     Indeed,  it  is   a  rule,  which   has   very  rare 

Ordinary  Dress  of  the  Clergy,  247 

exceptions,   that  the   mediaeval  illuminators  represented    contemporary 

subjects  with  scrupulous  accuracy.     We  give  another  representation  from 

the  picture  of  John  Ball,  the  priest  who  was  concerned  in  Wat  Tyler's 

rebellion,  taken  from  a  MS.  of  Froissart's   Chronicle,  in  the  Bibliotheque 

Imperiale  at  Paris.     The  whole  picture  is  interesting ;  the  background  is 

a  church,  in  whose  churchyard  are  three  tall  crosses.     Ball  is  preaching 

from  the  pulpit  of  his  saddle  to  the  crowd  of  insurgents  who  occupy  the 

left  side  of  the  picture.     In  the  Froissart  MS.  HarL  4,380,  at  f.  20,  is  a 

picture  of  un  vaillant  hornme  et  derque  nommi  Maistre  Johan  Warennes, 

preaching  against  Pope  Boniface ;  he  is  in  a  pulpit  panelled  in  green  and 

gold,  with  a  pall  hung  over  the   front,  and  the  people  sit  on  benches 

before  him ;  he  is  habited  in  a  blue  robe  and  hood  lined  with  white. 

The  author  of  Piers  Ploughman,  carping  at  the  clergy  in  the  latter  half 

of  the  fourteenth  century,  says  it  would  be  better 

"  If  many  a  priest  bare  for  their  baselards  and  their  brooches, 
A  pair  of  beads  in  their  hand,  and  a  book  under  their  arm. 
Sire*  John  and  Sire  Geffrey  hath  a  girdle  of  silver, 
A  baselard  and  a  knife,  with  botons  overgilt." 

*  The  honorary  title  of  Sir  was  given  to  priests  down  to  a  late  period.  A  law  of 
Canute  declared  a  priest  to  rank  with  the  second  order  of  thanes — i.e.,  with  the  landed 
gentry.  "  By  the  laws,  armorial,  civil,  and  of  arms,  a  priest  in  his  place  in  civil  conver- 
sation is  always  before  any  esquire,  as  being  a  knight's  fellow  by  his  holy  orders,  and  the 
third  of  the  three  Sirs  which  only  were  in  request  of  old  (no  baron,  viscount,  earl,  nor 

marquis  being  then  in  use),  to  wit,  Sir  King,  Sir  Knight,  and  Sir  Priest. But 

afterwards  Sir  in  English  was  restrained  to  these  four, — Sir  Knight,  Sir  Priest,  and  Sir 
Graduate,  and,  in  common  speech,  Sir  Esquire ;  so  always,  since  distinction  of  titles 
were,  Sir  Priest  was  ever  the  second." — A  Decacordon  of  Quodlibetical  Questions  con- 
cerning Religion  and  State,  quoted  in  Knight's  Shakespeare,  Vol.  I.  of  Comedies,  note 
to  Sc.  1,  Act  i.  of  "  Merry  Wives  of  Windsor."  In  Shakespeare's  characters  we  have  Sir 
Hugh  Evans  and  Sir  Oliver  Martext,  and,  at  a  later  period  still,  "  Sir  John"  was  the 
popular  name  for  a  priest.  Piers  Ploughman  (Vision  XI.  304)  calls  them  "  God's  kniyuts," 

And  also  in  the  Psalter  says  David  to  overskippers, 

Psallite  Deo  nostro,  psallite  ;  quoniam  rex  terre 

Deus  Israel;  psallite  sapienter. 

The  Bishop  shall  be  blamed  before  God,  as  I  leve  [believe] 

That  crowneth  such  goddes  knightes  that  conneth  nought  sapienter 

Synge  ne  psalm  es  rede  ne  segge  a  masse  of  the  day. 

Ac  never  neyther  is  blameless  the  bisshop  ne  the  chapleyne, 

For  her  either  is  endited  ;  and  that  of  L'norancia 

Hon  excusat  episcopos,  nee  idiotes  prestcs. 

248  The  Secular  Clergy  of  the  Middle  Ages. 

A  little  later,  he  speaks  of  proud  priests  habited  in  patlocks, — a  short 
jacket  worn  by  laymen, — with  peaked  shoes  and  large  knives  or  daggers. 
And  in  the  poems  of  John  Audelay,  in  the  fifteenth  century,  a  parish  priest 
is  described  in 

"His  girdle  harnesched  with  silver,  his  baselard  hangs  by." 

In  the  wills  of  the  clergy  they  themselves  describe  their  "  togas  "  of  gay 
colours,  trimmed  with  various  furs,  and  their  ornamented  girdles  and 
purses,  and  make  no  secret  of  the  obj  ectionable  knives  and  baselards.  In  the 
Bury  St.  Edmunds  Wills,  Adam  de  Stanton,  a  chaplain,  a.d.  1370,  bequeaths 
one  girdle,  with  purse  and  knife,  valued  at  $s. — a  rather  large  sum  of  money 
in  those  days.  In  the  York  wills,  John  Wynd-hill,  Rector  of  Amecliffe, 
a.d.  1431,  bequeaths  a  pair  of  amber  beads,  such  as  Piers  Ploughman  says 
a  priest  ought  "  to  bear  in  his  hand,  and  a  book  under  his  arm ; "  and, 
curiously  enough,  in  the  next  sentence  he  leaves  "  an  English  book  of 
Piers  Ploughman ;"  but  he  does  not  seem  to  have  been  much  influenced 
by  the  popular  poet's  invectives,  for  he  goes  on  to  bequeath  two  green 
gowns  and  one  of  murrey  and  one  of  sanguine  colour,  besides  two  of 
black,  all  trimmed  with  various  furs;  also,  one  girdle  of  sanguine  silk, 
ornamented  with  silver,  and  gilded,  and  another  zone  of  green  and  white, 
ornamented  with  silver  and  gilded ;  and  he  also  leaves  behind  him — 
proh  pudor — his  best  silver  girdle,  and  a  baselard  with  ivory  and  silver 
handle.  John  Gilby,  Rector  of  Knesale,  1434-5,  leaves  a  red  toga,  furred 
with  byce,  a  black  zone  of  silk  with  gilt  bars,  and  a  zone  ornamented 
with  silver.  J.  Bagule,  Rector  of  All  Saints,  York,  a.d.  1438,  leaves  a 
little  baselard,  with  a  zone  harnessed  with  silver,  to  Sir  T.  Astell,  a  chap- 
lain. W.  Duffield,  a  chantry  priest  at  York,  ad.  1443,  leaves  a  black  zone 
silvered,  a  purse  called  a  "gypsire,"  and  a  white  purse  of  "  Burdeux." 
W.  Siverd,  chaplain,  leaves  to  H.  Hobshot  a  hawk-bag ;  and  to  W.  Day, 
parochial  chaplain  of  Calton,  a  pair  of  hawk-bag  rings ;  and  to  J.  Sarle, 
chaplain,  "  my  ruby  zone,  silvered,  and  my  toga,  furred  with  '  bevers ;' " 
and  to  the  wife  of  J.  Bridlington,  "  a  ruby  purse  of  satin."  R.  Rolleston, 
provost  of  the  church  of  Beverley,  a.d.  1450,  leaves  a  "  toga  lunata"  with 
a  red  hood,  a  toga  and  hood  of  violet,  a  long  toga  and  hood  of  black, 
trimmed  with  martrons,  and  a  toga  and  hood  of  violet.    J.  Clyft,  chaplain, 

Ordinary  Dress  of  the  Clergy. 


a.d.  1455,  leaves  a  zone  of  silk,  ornamented  with  silver.  J.  Tidman, 
chaplain,  a.d.  1458,  a  toga  of  violet  and  one  of  meld.  C.  Lassels,  chap- 
lain, A.D.  1 46 1,  a  green  toga  and  a  white  zone,  silvered.  T.  Horneby, 
rector  of  Stokesley,  a.d.  1464,  a  red  toga  and  hood ;  and,  among  the  Rich- 
mondshire  Wills,  we  find  that  of  Sir  Henry  Hailed,  Lady-priest  of  the 
parish  of  Kirby-in-Kendal,  in  1542  a.d.  (four  years  before  the  suppression 
of  the  chantries),  who  leaves  a  short  gown  and  a  long  gown,  whose  colour 
is  not  specified,  but  was  probably  black,  which  seems  by  this  time  to  have 
been  the  most  usual  clerical  wear. 

The  accompanying  woodcut  will  admirably  illustrate  the  ornamented 
girdle,  purse,  and  knife,  of  which  we  have 
been  reading.  It  is  from  a  MS.  of  Chau- 
cer's poem  of  the  Romaunt  of  the  Rose 
(HarL  4,425,  f.  143),  and  represents  a 
priest  confessing  a  lady  in  a  church. 
The  characters  in  the  scene  are,  like  the 
poem,  allegorical;  the  priest  is  Genius, 
and  the  lady  is  Dame  Nature ;  but  it  is 
not  the  less  an  accurate  picture  of  a  con- 
fessional scene  of  the  latter  part  of  the 
fourteenth  century.  The  priest  is  habited 
in  a  robe  of  purple,  with  a  black  cap  and 
a  black  liripipe  attached  to  it,  brought 
over  the  shoulder  to  the  front,  and  falling 
over  the  arm.  The  tab,  peeping  from 
beneath  the  cap  above  the  ear,  is  red ; 
the  girdle,  purse,  and  knife,  are,  in  the  original  illumination,  very  clearly 
represented.  In  another  picture  of  the  same  person,  at  f.  106,  the  black 
girdle  is  represented  as  ornamented  with  little  circles  of  gold. 

Many  of  these  clergymen  had  one  black  toga  with  hood  en  suite— not 
for  constant  use  in  divine  service,  for,  as  we  have  already  seen,  they  are 
generally  represented  in  the  illuminations  with  coloured  ■ togas"  under 
their  surplices,— but  perhaps,  for  wear  on  mourning  occasions.  Thus,  in 
the  presentations  of  York  Cathedral,  aj>.  15 19,  "  We  thynke  it  were  con- 

A  Priest  Confessing  a  Lady. 

250  The  Secular  Clergy  of  the  Middle  Ages. 

venient  that  whene  we  fetche  a  corse  to  the  churche,  that  we  shulde  be  in 
our  blak  abbettes  [habits]  mornyngly,  w4  our  hodes  of  the  same  of  our 
hedes,  as  is  used  in  many  other  places."  * 

At  the  time  of  the  Reformation,  when  the  English  clergy  abandoned 
the  mediaeval  official  robes,  they  also  desisted  from  wearing  the  tonsure, 
which  had  for  many  centuries  been  the  distinguishing  mark  of  a 
cleric,  and  they  seem  generally  to  have  adopted  the  academical 
dress,  for  the  model  both  ot  their  official  and  their  ordinary  dress. 
The  Puritan  clergy  adopted  a  costume  which  differed  little,  if  at  all,  from 
that  of  the  laity  of  the  same  school.  But  it  is  curious  that  this  question 
of  clerical  dress  continued  to  be  one  of  complaint  on  one  side,  and  resist- 
ance on  the  other,  down  to  the  end  of  our  ecclesiastical  legislation.  The 
74th  canon  of  1603  is  as  rhetorical  in  form,  and  as  querulous  in  tone,  and 
as  minute  in  its  description  of  the  way  in  which  ecclesiastical  persons 
should,  and  the  way  in  which  they  should  not,  dress,  as  is  the  Injunction 
of  1342,  which  we  have  already  quoted.  "  The  true,  ancient,  and  flourish- 
ing churches  of  Christ,  being  ever  desirous  that  their  prelacy  and  clergy 
might  be  had  as  well  in  outward  reverence,  as  otherwise  regarded  for  the 
worthiness  of  their  ministry,  did  think  it  fit,  by  a  prescript  form  of  decent 
and  comely  apparel,  to  have  them  known  to  the  people,  and  thereby  to 
receive  the  honour  and  estimation  due  to  the  special  messengers  and 
ministers  of  Almighty  God  :  we,  therefore,  following  their  grave  judgment 
and  the  ancient  custom  of  the  Church  of  England,  and  hoping  that  in  time 
new  fangleness  of  apparel  in  some  factious  persons  will  die  of  itself,  do 
constitute  and  appoint,  that  the  archbishops  and  bishops  shall  not  intermit 
to  use  the  accustomed  apparel  of  their  degree.  Likewise,  all  deans, 
masters  of  colleges,  archdeacons,  and  prebendaries,  in  cathedrals  and 
collegiate  churches  (being  priests  or  deacons),  doctors  in  divinity,  law,  and 
physic,  bachelors  in  divinity,  masters  of  arts,  and  bachelors  of  law,  having 
any  ecclesiastical  living,  shall  wear  gowns  with  standing  collars,  and 
sleeves  straight  at  the  hands,  or  wide  sleeves,  as  is  used  in  the  universities, 
with  hoods  or  tippets  of  silk  or  sarcenet,  and  square  caps ;  and  that  all 

*  York  Fabric  Rolls,  p.  268. 

Canonical  Costume. 


other  ministers  admitted,  or  to  be  admitted,  into  that  function,  shall  also 
usually  wear  the  like  apparel  as  is  aforesaid,  except  tippets  only.  We 
do  further  in  like  manner  ordain,  that  all  the  said  ecclesiastical  persons 
above  mentioned  shall  usually  wear  on  their  journeys  cloaks  with  sleeves, 
commonly  called  Priests'  Cloaks,  without  guards,  welts,  long  buttons,  or 
cuts.  And  no  ecclesiastical  person  shall  wear  any  coif,  or  wrought  night- 
cap, but  only  plain  night  caps  of  black  silk,  satin,  or  velvet.  In  all  which 
particulars  concerning  the  apparel  here  prescribed,  our  meaning  is  not  to 
attribute  any  holiness  or  special  worthiness  to  the  said  garments,  but  for 
decency,  gravity,  and  order,  as  is  before  specified.  In  private  houses  and 
in  their  studies  the  said  persons  ecclesiastical  may  use  any  comely  and 
scholarlike  apparel,  provided  that  it  be  not  cut  or  pinkt;  and  that  in 
public  they  go  not  in  their  doublet  and  hose  without  coats  or  cassocks ; 
and  that  they  wear  not  any  light-coloured  stockings.  Likewise,  poor 
beneficed  men  and  curates  (not  being  able  to  provide  themselves  long 
gowns)  may  go  in  short  gowns  of  the  fashion  aforesaid." 

The  portraits  prefixed  to  the  folio  works  of  the  great  divines  of  the 
sixteenth  and  seventeenth  centuries  have  made  us  familiar  with  the 
fact,  that  at  the  time  of  the  Reformation  the  clergy  wore  the  beard 
and  moustache.  They  continued  to  wear  the  cassock  and  gown  as  their 
ordinary  out-door  costume  until  as  late  as  the  time  of  George  II. ;  but  in 
the  fashion  of  doublet  and  hose,  hats,  shoes,  and  hair,  they  followed  the 
custom  of  other  gentlemen.  Mr.  Fairholt,  in  his  "  Costume  in  England," 
p.  327,  gives  us  a  woodcut  from  a  print  of  1680  a.d.,  which  admirably  illus- 
trates the  ordinary  out-door  dress  of  a  clergyman  of  the  time  of  William 
and  Mary. 



HEN,  in  oui  endeavour  to  realise  the  life  of  these  secular  clergymen 
of  the  Middle  Ages,  we  come  to  inquire,  What  sort  of  houses  did 
they  live  in  ?  how  were  these  furnished  ?  what  sort  of  life  did 
their  occupants  lead?  what  kind  of  men  were  they?  it  is  curious  how 
little  seems  to  be  generally  known  on  the  subject,  compared  with  what  we 
know  about  the  houses  and  life  and  character  of  the  regular  orders.  In- 
stead of  gathering  together  what  others  have  said,  we  find  ourselves 
engaged  in  an  original  investigation  of  a  new  and  obscure  subject.  The 
case  of  the  cathedral  and  collegiate  clergy,  and  that  of  the  isolated 
parochial  clergy,  form  two  distinct  branches  of  the  subject.  The  limited 
space  at  our  disposal  will  not  permit  us  to  do  justice  to  both ;  the  latter 
branch  of  the  subject  is  less  known,  and  perhaps  the  more  generally 
interesting,  and  we  shall  therefore  devote  the  bulk  of  our  space  to  it.  We 
will  only  premise  a  few  words  on  the  former  branch. 

The  bishop  of  a  cathedral  of  secular  canons  had  his  house  near  his 
cathedral,  in  which  he  maintained  a  household  equal  in  numbers  and 
expense  to  that  of  the  secular  barons  among  whom  he  took  rank;  the 
chief  difference  being,  that  the  spiritual  lord's  family  consisted  rather  of 
chaplains  and  clerks  than  of  squires  and  men-at-arms.  The  bishop's 
palace  at  Wells  is  a  very  interesting  example  in  an  unusually  perfect  con- 
dition. Britton  gives  an  engraving  of  it  as  it  appeared  before  the  reign  of 
Edward  VI.  The  bishop  besides  had  other  residences  on  his  manors, 
some  of  which  were  castles  like  those  of  the  other  nobility.  Farnham,  the 
present  residence  of  the  see  of  Winchester,  is  a  noble  example,  which  still 

The  Cathedral  Close.  253 

serves  its  original  purpose.  Of  the  cathedral  closes  many  still  remain 
sufficiently  unchanged  to  enable  us  to  understand  their  original  condition. 
Take  Lincoln  for  example.  On  the  north  side  of  the  church,  in  the  angle 
between  the  nave  and  transept,  was  the  cloister,  with  the  polygonal 
chapter-house  on  the  east  side.  The  lofty  wall  which  enclosed  the  pre- 
cincts yet  remains,  with  its  main  entrance  in  the  middle  of  the  west  wall, 
opposite  the  great  doors  of  the  cathedral.  This  gate,  called  the  Exchequer 
Gate,  has  chambers  over  it,  devoted  probably  to  the  official  business  of  the 
diocese.  There  are  two  other  smaller  gates  at  the  north-east  and  south- 
st  corners  of  the  close,  and  there  is  a  postern  on  the  south  side.  The 
bishop's  palace,  whose  beautiful  and  interesting  ruins  and  charming 
rounds  still  remain,  occupied  the  slope  of  the  southern  hill  outside  the 
lose.  The  vicar's  court  is  in  the  corner  of  the  close  near  the  gateway 
the  palace  grounds.  A  fourteenth-century  house,  which  was  the  official 
jsidence  of  the  chaplain  of  one  of  the  endowed  chantries,  still  remains  on 
le  south  side  of  the  close,  nearly  opposite  the  choir  door.  On  the  east 
ide  of  the  close  the  fifteenth-century  houses  of  several  of  the  canons 
still  remain,  and  are  interesting  examples  of  the  domestic  architecture  of 
the  time.  It  is  not  difficult  from  these  data  to  picture  to  ourselves  the 
original  condition  of  this  noble  establishment  when  the  cathedral,  with 
its  cloister  and  chapter-house,  stood  isolated  in  the  middle  of  the  green 
sward,  and  the  houses  of  the  canons  and  chaplains  formed  a  great  irregular 
madrangle  round  it,  and  the  close  walls  shut  them  all  in  from  the  outer 
rorld,  and  the  halls  and  towers  of  the  bishop's  palace  were  still  perfect 
idst  its  hanging  gardens  enclosed  within  their  own  walls,  the  quadrangle 
)f  houses  which  had  been  built  for  the  cathedral  vicars  occupying  a  corner 
it  out  of  the  bishop's  grounds  beside  his  gateway.  And  we  can  repeople 
the  restored  close.  Let  it  be  on  the  morning  of  one  of  the  great  festivals  ; 
let  the  great  bells  be  ringing  out  their  summons  to  high  mass ;  and  we  shall 
see  the  dignified  canons  in  amice  and  cap  crossing  the  green  singly  on 
leir  way  from  their  houses  to  their  stalls  in  the  choir ;  the  vicars  convers- 
lg  in  a  little  group  as  they  come  across  from  their  court ;  the  surpliced 
lorister  boys  under  the  charge  of  their  schoolmaster ;  a  band  of  minstrels 
rith  flutes,  and  hautboys,  and  viols,  and  harps,  and  organs,  coming  in 

254  The  Secular  Clergy  of  the  Middle  Ages. 

from  the  city,  to  use  their  instruments  in  the  rood-loft  to  aid  the  voices  of 
the  choir ;  scattered  clerks  and  country  clergy,  and  townspeople,  are  all  con- 
verging to  the  great  south  door ;  and  last  of  all  the  lord  bishop,  in  cope  and 
mitre,  emerges  from  his  gateway,  preceded  by  his  cross-bearer,  attended  by 
noble  or  royal  guests,  and  followed  by  a  suite  of  officials  and  clerks ;  while 
over  all  the  great  bells  ring  out  their  joyous  peal  to  summon  the  people 
to  the  solemn  worship  of  God  in  the  mother  church  of  the  vast  diocese. 

But  we  must  turn  to  our  researches  into  the  humbler  life  of  the  country 
rectors  and  vicars.  And  first,  what  sort  of  houses  did  they  live  in  ?  We 
have  not  been  able  to  find  one  of  the  parsonage  houses  of  an  earlier  date 
than  the  Reformation  still  remaining  in  a  condition  sufficiently  unaltered 
to  enable  us  to  understand  what  they  originally  were.  There  is  an  ancient 
rectory  house  of  the  fourteenth  century  at  West  Deane,  Sussex,*  of  which 
we  give  a  ground-plan  and  north-east  view  on  the  following  page ;  but  the 
rectory  belonged  to  the  prior  and  convent  of  Benedictine  Monks  of  Wil- 
mington, and  this  house  was  probably  their  grange,  or  cell,  and  may  have 
been  inhabited  by  two  of  their  monks,  or  by  their  tenant,  and  not  by  the 
parish  priest.  Again,  there  is  a  very  picturesque  rectory  house,  of  the 
fifteenth  century,  at  Little  Chesterton,  near  Cambridge,!  but  this  again  is 
believed  to  have  been  a  grange,  or  cell,  of  a  monastic  house. 

In  the  absence  of  actual  examples,  we  are  driven  to  glean  what  informa- 
tion we  can  from  other  sources.  There  remain  to  us  a  good  many  of  the 
deeds  of  the  thirteenth  and  fourteenth  centuries,  by  which,  on  the  impro- 
priation of  the  benefices,  provision  was  made  for  the  permanent  endow- 
ment of  vicarages  in  them.  In  the  majority  of  cases  the  old  rectory 
house  was  assigned  as  the  future  vicarage  house,  and  no  detailed  descrip- 
tion of  it  was  necessary ;  but  in  the  deed  by  which  the  rectories  of  Saw- 
bridgeworth,  in  Herts,  and  Kelvedon,  in  Essex,  were  appropriated  to  the 
convent  of  Westminster,  we  are  so  fortunate  as  to  find  descriptions  of  the 
fourteenth-century  parsonage  houses,  one  of  which  is  so  detailed  as  to 
enable  any  one  who  is  acquainted  with  the  domestic  architecture  of  the 

*  Described  and  engraved  in  the  Sussex  Archaeological  Collections,  vii.  f.  13. 
t  Described  and  engraved  in  Mr.  Parker's  "  Domestic  Architecture." 

Parsonage  Houses. 


time  to  form  a  very  definite  picture  of  the  whole  building.  In  the  case  of 
Sawbridgeworth,  the  old  rectory  house  was  assigned  as  the  vicarage  house, 
and  is  thus  described — "  All   the  messuage  which  is  called  the  priest's 

Rectory  House,  West  Deane,  Sussex. 

A  Entrance  door. 
B  Windows. 

Length  of  exterior  , 
Width  of  interior    . 

ft.  in. 
36  6 
14    10 

messuage,  with  the  houses  thereon  built,  that  is  to  say,  one  hall  with  two 
chambers,  with  a  buttery,  cellar,  kitchen,  stable,  and  other  fitting  and 
decent  houses,  with  all  the  garden  as  it  is  enclosed  with  walls  to  the  said 


256  The  Secular  Clergy  of  Ike  3 fiddle  Ages. 

messuage  belonging."  The  description  of  the  parsonage  house  at  Kelve- 
don  is  much  more  definite  and  intelligible.  For  this  the  deed  tells  us  the 
convent  assigned — "  One  hall  situate  in  the  manor  of  the  said  abbot  and 
convent  near  the  said  church,  with  a  chamber  and  soler  at  one  end  of  the 
hall  and  with  a  buttery  and  cellar  at  the  other.  Also  one  other  house  in 
three  parts,  that  is  to  say,  for  a  kitchen  with  a  convenient  chamber  in  the 
end  of  the  said  house  for  guests,  and  a  bakehouse.  Also  one  other  house 
in  two  parts,  next  the  gate  at  the  entrance  of  the  manor,  for  a  stable  and 
cowhouse.  He  (the  vicar)  shall  also  have  a  convenient  grange,  to  be 
built  within  a  year  at  the  expense  of  the  prior  and  convent.  He  shall  also 
have  the  curtilage  with  the  garden  adjoining  to  the  hall  on  the  north  side, 
as  it  is  enclosed  with  hedges  and  ditches."  The  date  of  the  deed  is 
1356  a.d.,  and  it  speaks  of  these  houses  as  already  existing.  Now  the 
common  arrangement  of  a  small  house  at  that  date,  and  for  near  a  century 
before  and  after,  was  this,  "  a  hall  in  the  centre,  with  a  soler  at  one  end 
and  offices  at  the  other."*  A  description  which  exactly  agrees  with  the 
account  of  the  Kelvedon  house,  and  enables  us  to  say  with  great  proba- 
bility that  in  the  Sawbridgeworth  "priest's  messuage"  also,  the  two 
chambers  were  at  one  end  of  the  hall,  and  the  buttery,  cellar,  and  kitchen 
at  the  other,  the  stable  and  other  fitting  and  decent  houses  being  detached 
from  and  not  forming  any  portion  of  the  dwelling  house. 

Confining  ourselves,  however,  to  the  Kelvedon  house,  a  little  study  will 
enable  us  to  reconstruct  it  conjecturally  with  a  very  high  probability  of 
being  minutely  accurate  in  our  conjectures.  First  of  all,  a  house  of  this 
character  in  the  county  of  Essex  would,  beyond  question,  be  a  timber 
house.  To  make  our  description  clearer  we  have  given  a  rough  diagram 
of  our  conjectural  arrangement.  Its  principal  feature  was,  of  course,  the 
"  one  hall "  (a).  We  know  at  once  what  the  hall  of  a  timber  house  of  this 
period  of  architecture  would  be.  It  would  be  a  rather  spacious  and  lofty 
apartment,  with  an  open  timber  roof;  the  principal  door  of  the  house 
would  open  into  the  "  screens  "  (d),  at  the  lower  end  of  the  hall,  and  the 
back  door  of  the  house  would  be  at  the  other  end  of  the  screens.     At  the 

•  Parker's  "Domestic  Architecture,"  ii.  p.  87. 

Kelvedon  Rectory  in  the  Fourteenth  Century.  257 

upper  end  of  the  hall  would  be  the  raised  dais  (b),  at  which  the  master  of 
the  house  sat  with  his  family.  The  fireplace  would  either  be  an  open 
hearth  in  the  middle  of  the  hall,  like  that  which  still  exists  in  the  four- 
teenth-century hall  at  Penshurst  Place,  Kent,  or  it  would  be  an  open  fire- 
place, under  a  projecting  chimney,  at  the  further  side  of  the  hall,  such  as 
is  frequently  seen  in  MS.  illuminations  of  the  small  houses  of  the  period. 
There  was  next  "  a  chamber  and  soler  at  one  end  of  the  hall."  The  soler 
of  a  mediaeval  house  was  the  chief  apartment  after  the  hall,  it  answered  to 
the  "  great  chamber  "  of  the  sixteenth  century,  and  to  the  parlour  or  draw- 
ing-room of  more  modern  times.     It  was  usually  adjacent  to  the  upper  end 




D     j                   A 


Conjectural  Plan  of  Rectory-House  at  Kelvedon,  Essex. 

of  the  hall,  and  built  on  transversely  to  it,  with  a  window  at  each  end.  It 
was  usually  raised  on  an  undercroft,  which  was  used  as  a  storeroom  or 
cellar,  so  that  it  was  reached  by  a  stair  from  the  upper  end  of  the  hall. 
Sometimes,  instead  of  a  mere  undercroft,  there  was  a  chamber  under  the 
soler,  which  was  the  case  here,  so  that  we  have  added  these  features  to  our 
plan  (c).  Next  there  was  "  a  buttery  and  cellar  at  the  other  "  end  of  the 
hall.  In  the  buttery  in  those  days  were  kept  wine  and  beer,  table  linen, 
cups,  pots,  &c. :  and  in  the  cellar  the  stores  of  eatables  which,  it  must  be 
remembered,  were  not  bought  in  weekly  from  the  village  shop,  or  the  next 
market  town,  but  were  partly  the  produce  of  the  glebe  and  tithe,  and  partly 


25  8  The  Secular  Clergy  of  the  Middle  Ages. 

were  laid  in  yearly  or  half-yearly  at  some  neighbouring  fair.  The  buttery 
and  cellar — they  who  are  familiar  with  old  houses,  or  with  our  colleges,  will 
remember — are  always  at  the  lower  end  of  the  hall,  and  open  upon  the 
screens,  with  two  whole  or  half  doors  side  by  side  ;  we  may  therefore  add 
them  thus  upon  our  plan  (h,  i). 

The  deed  adds,  "  Also  one  other  house  in  three  parts."  In  those  days 
the  rooms  of  a  house  were  not  massed  compactly  together  under  one  roof, 
but  were  built  in  separate  buildings  more  or  less  detached,  and  each  build- 
ing was  called  a  house  ;  "  One  other  house  in  three  parts,  that  is  to  say,  a 
kitchen  with  a  convenient  chamber  at  one  end  of  the  said  house  for  guests, 
and  a  bakehouse."  "  The  kitchen,"  says  Mr.  Parker,  in  his  "  Domestic 
Architecture,"  "  was  frequently  a  detached  building,  often  connected  with 
the  hall  by  a  passage  or  alley  leading  from  the  screens ;"  and  it  was  often 
of  greater  relative  size  and  importance  than  modern  usage  would  lead  us 
to  suppose ;  the  kitchens  of  old  monasteries,  mansion  houses,  and  colleges 
often  have  almost  the  size  and  architectural  character  of  a  second  hall.  In 
the  case  before  us  it  was  a  section  of  the  "  other  house,"  and  probably 
occupied  its  whole  height,  with  an  open  timber  roof  (g).  In  the  disposition 
of  the  bakehouse  and  convenient  chamber  for  guests  which  were  also  in 
this  other  house,  we  meet  with  our  first  difficulty  ;  the  "  chamber  "  might 
possibly  be  over  the  bakehouse,  which  took  the  usual  form  of  an  under- 
croft beneath  the  guest  chamber ;  but  the  definition  that  the  house  was 
divided  "  in  three  parts  "  suggests  that  it  was  divided  from  top  to  bottom 
into  three  distinct  sections.  Inclining  to  the  latter  opinion,  we  have  so 
disposed  these  apartments  in  our  plan  (f,  e). 

The  elevation  of  the  house  may  be  conjectured  with  as  much  probability 
as  its  plan.  Standing  in  front  of  it  we  should  have  the  side  of  the  hall 
towards  us,  with  the  arched  door  at  its  lower  end,  and  perhaps  two  windows 
in  the  side  with  carved  wood  tracery  *  in  their  heads.  To  the  right  would 
be  the  gable  end  of  the  chamber  with  soler  over  it;  the  soler  would  pro- 
bably have  a  rather  large  arched  and  traceried  window  in  the  end,  the 
chamber  a  smaller  and  perhaps  square-headed  light.     On  the  left  would  be 

*  There  are  numerous  curious  examples  of  fifteenth-century  timber  window-tracery  in 
the  Essex  churches. 

Kelvedon  Rectory  in  the  Fourteenth  Century.  259 

the  building,  perhaps  a  lean-to,  containing  the  buttery  and  cellar,  with  only 
a  small  square-headed  light  in  front  The  accompanying  wood-cut  of  a 
fourteenth-century  house,  from  the  Add  MSS.  10,292,  will  help  to  illustrate 
our  conjectural  elevation  of  Kelvedon  Rectory.  It  has  the  hall  with  its 
great  door  and  arched  traceried  window,  and  at  the  one  end  a  chamber 

A  Fourteenth  Century  House. 
and  soler  over  it.     It  only  wants  the  offices  at  the  other  end  to  make  the 
resemblance  complete.* 

*  The  deed  of  settlement  of  the  vicarage  of  Buhner,  in  the  year  I425,  gives  us  the 
description  of  a  parsonage  house  of  similar  character.  It  consisted  of  one  hall  with  two 
chambers  annexed,  the  bakehouse,  kitchen,  and  larder-house,  one  chamber  for  the  Wear's 
servant,  a  stable,  and  a  hay-soller  {Soler,  loft),  with  a  competent  garden.  Ingrave 
rectory  house  was  a  similar  house ;  it  is  described,  in  a  terrier  of  1610,  as  "  a  house 
containing  a  hall,  a  parlour,  a  buttery,  two  lofts,  and  a  study,  also  a  kitchen,  a  milk- 
house,  and  a  house  for  poultry,  a  barn,  a  stable  and  a  hay-house." — Newcourt,  ii.  p.  281. 

Ingatestone  rectory,  in  the  terrier  of  1610,  was  "  a  dwelling-house  with  a  hall,  a  parlour, 
and  a  chamber  within  it ;  a  study  newly  built  by  the  then  parson ;  a  chamber  over  the 
parlour,  and  another  within  that  with  a  closet ;  without  the  dwelling-house  a  kitchen  and 
two  little  rooms  adjoining  to  it,  and  a  chamber  over  them ;  two  little  butteries  over 
against  the  hall,  and  next  them  a  chamber,  and  one  other  chamber  over  the  same  ;  without 
the  kitchen  there  is  a  dove-house,  and  another  house  built  by  the  then  parson ;  a  bam 
and  a  stable  very  ruinous." — Newcourt,  ii.  348.  Here,  too,  we  seem  to  have  an  old 
house  with  hall  in  the  middle,  parlour  and  chamber  at  one  end  and  two  butteries  at  the 
other,  in  the  midst  of  successive  additions. 

There  is  also  a  description  of  the  rectory  house  of  West  Haningfield,  Essex,  in  New- 
court,  ii.  309,  and  of  North  Bemfleet,  ii.  46. 

260  The  Secular  Clergy  of  the  Middle  Ages, 

Of  later  date  probably  and  greater  size,  resembling  a  moated  manoi 
house,  was  the  rectory  of  Great  Bromley,  Essex,  which  is  thus  described  in 
the  terrier  of  1610  a.d.  :  "  A  large  parsonage  house  compass'd  with  a  Mote, 
a  Gate-house,  with  a  large  chamber,  and  a  substantial  bridge  of  timber 
adjoining  to  it,  a  little  yard,  an  orchard,  and  a  little  garden,  all  within  the 
Mote,  which,  together  with  the  Circuit  of  the  House,  contains  about  half 
an  Acre  of  Ground  ;  and  without  the  Mote  there  is  a  Yard,  in  which  there 
is  another  Gate-house  and  a  stable,  and  a  hay  house  adjoining  ;  also  a  barn 
of  25  yards  long  and  9  yards  wide,  and  about  79  Acres  and  a-half  of  glebe- 
land."  *  The  outbuildings  were  perhaps  arranged  as  a  courtyard  outside 
the  moat  to  which  the  gate-house  formed  an  entrance,  so  that  the  visitor 
would  pass  through  this  outer  gate,  through  the  court  of  offices,  over  the 
bridge,  and  through  the  second  gate-house  into  the  base  court  of  the  house. 
This  is  the  arrangement  at  Ightham  Mote,  Kent. 

The  parish  chaplains  seem  to  have  had  houses  of  residence  provided  for 
them.  The  parish  of  St.  Michael-le-Belfry,  York,  complained  in  its  visita- 
tion presentment,  in  the  year  1409,  that  there  was  no  house  assigned  for 
the  parish  chaplain  or  for  the  parish  clerk.  That  they  were  small  houses 
we  gather  from  the  fact  that  in  some  of  the  settlements  of  vicarages  it  is 
required  that  a  competent  house  shall  be  built  for  the  vicar  where  the 
parish  chaplain  has  been  used  to  live ;  e.g.  at  Great  Bentley,  Essex,  it  was 
ordered  in  1323,  that  the  vicars  "  shall  have  one  competent  dwelling-house 
with  a  sufficient  curtilage,  where  the  parish  chaplain  did  use  to  abide,  to  be 
prepared  at  the  cost  of  the  said  prior  and  convent."  t  And  at  the  settle- 
ment of  the  vicarage  of  St.  Peter's,  Colchester,  a.d.  13 19,  it  was  required 
that  "  the  convent  of  St.  Botolph's,  the  impropriators,  should  prepare  a 
competent  house  for  the  vicar  in  the  ground  of  the  churchyard  where  a 
house  was  built  for  the  parish  chaplain  of  the  said  church."  At  Radwinter, 
Essex,  we  find  by  the  terrier  of  1610  a.d.,  that  there  were  two  mansions 
belonging  to  the  benefice,  "  on  the  south  side  of  the  church,  towards  the 
west  end,  one  called  the  great  vicarage,  and  in  ancient  time  the  Domus 
Capellanorum,  and  the  other  the  less  vicarage,"  which  latter  "  formerly 

*  Newcourt's  "  Repertorum,"  ii.  97.  t  Newcourt,  ii.  49. 

The  Furniture  of  the  Parsonage.  261 

served  for  the  ease  of  the  Parson,  and,  as  appears  by  evidence,  first  given 
to  the  end  that  if  any  of  the  parish  were  sick,  the  party  might  be  sine  to 
find  the  Parson  or  his  curate  near  the  church  ready  to  go  and  visit  him." 
At  the  south-west  corner  of  the  churchyard  of  Doddinghurst,  Essex,  there 
still  exists  a  little  house  of  fifteenth-century  date,  which  may  have  been 
such  a  curate's  house. 

From  a  comparison  of  these  parsonages  with  the  usual  plan  and  arrange- 
ment of  the  houses  of  laymen  of  the  fourteenth  century,  may  be  made  the 
important  deduction  that  the  houses  of  the  parochial  clergy  had  no  eccle- 
siastical peculiarities  of  arrangement ;  they  were  not  little  monasteries  or 
great  recluse  houses,  they  were  like  the  houses  of  the  laity ;  and  this  agrees 
with  the  conclusions  to  which  we  have  arrived  already  by  other  roads, 
that  the  secular  clergy  lived  in  very  much  the  same  style  as  laymen  of  a 
similar  degree  of  wealth  and  social  standing.  The  poor  clerk  lived  in 
a  single  chamber  of  a  citizen's  house ;  the  town  priest  had  a  house  like 
those  of  the  citizens ;  the  country  rector  or  vicar  a  house  like  the  manor 
houses  of  the  smaller  gentry. 

As  to  the  furniture  of  the  parsonage,  the  wills  of  the  clergy  supply  us 
with  ample  authorities.  We  will  select  one  of  about  the  date  of  the, 
Kelvedon  parsonage  house  which  we  have  been  studying,  to  help  us  to 
conjecturally  furnish  the  house  which  we  have  conjecturally  built.  Here 
is  an  inventory  of  the  goods  of  Adam  de  Stanton,  a  chaplain,  date  1370 
a.d.,  taken  from  Mr.  Tymms's  collection  of  Bury  wills.  "  Imprimis,  in 
money  vi5-  viiid  and  i  seal  of  silver  worth  ijs."  The  money  will  seem  a 
fair  sum  to  have  in  hand  when  we  consider  the  greater  value  of  money 
then  and  especially  the  comparative  scarcity  of  actual  coin.  The  seal  was 
probably  his  official  seal  as  chaplain  of  an  endowed  chantry;  we  have 
extant  examples  of  such  seals  of  the  beneficed  clergy.  u  Item,  iij  brass 
pots  and  i  posnet  worth  xjs  vj4.  Item,  in  plate,  xxijd  Item,  a  round  pot 
with  a  laver,  j*-  vj4-"  probably  an  ewer  and  basin  for  washing  the  hands, 
like  those  still  used  in  Germany,  &a  "Item,  in  iron  instruments,  vj* 
viiijd  and  vj*1-"  perhaps  fire-dogs  and  poker,  spit,  and  pothook.  "  Item, 
in  pewter  vessels,  iiijs  ijd-"  probably  plates,  dishes,  and  spoons.  "  Item, 
of  wooden  utensils,"  which,  from  comparison  with  other  inventories  of 

262  The  Secular  Clergy  of  the  Middle  Ages. 

about  the  same  period,  we  suppose  may  be  boards  and  trestles  for  tables, 
and  benches,  and  a  chair,  and  perhaps  may  include  trenchers  and  bowls. 
"  Item,  i  portiforum,  xs-"  a  book  of  church  service  so  called,  which  must 
have  been  a  handsome  one  to  be  worth  ten  shillings,  perhaps  it  was 
illuminated.  "  Item,  j  book  de  Lege  and  j  Par  Statutorum,  and  j  Book 
of  Romances.*  Item,  j  girdle  with  purse  and  knife,  v8*"  on  which  we  have 
already  commented  in  our  last  chapter.  "  Item,  j  pair  of  knives  for  the 
table,  xijd>  Item,  j  saddle  with  bridle  and  spurs,  iij3-  Item,  of  linen  and 
woollen  garments,  xxviij8-  and  xijd-  Item,  of  chests  and  caskets,  vj8,  ijd-" 
Chests  and  caskets  then  served  for  cupboards  and  drawers.f 

If  we  compare  these  clerical  inventories  with  those  of  contemporary 
laymen  of  the  same  degree,  we  shall  find  that  a  country  parson's  house 
was  furnished  like  a  small  manor  house,  and  that  his  domestic  economy 
was  very  like  that  of  the  gentry  of  a  like  income.  Matthew  Paris  tells  us 
an  anecdote  of  a  certain  handsome  clerk,  the  rector  of  a  rich  church,  who 
surpassed  all  the  knights  living  around  him  in  giving  repeated  entertain- 
ments and  acts  of  hospitality.]:  But  usually  it  was  a  rude  kind  of  life  which 
the  country  squire  or  parson  led,  very  like  that  which  was  led  by  the 
substantial  farmers  of  a  few  generations  ago,  when  it  was  the  fashion  for 
the  unmarried  farm  labourers  to  live  in  the  farm-house,  and  for  the  farmer 
and  his  household  all  to  sit  down  to  meals  together.  These  were  their 
hours : — 

"  Rise  at  five,  dine  at  nine, 
Sup  at  five,  and  bed  at  nine, 
Will  make  a  man  live  to  ninety-and-nine." 

The  master  of  the  house  sat  in  the  sole  arm-chair,  in  the  middle  of  the 

*  George  Darell,  A.D.  1432,  leaves  one  book  of  statutes,  containing  the  statutes  of 
Kings  Edward  III.,  Richard  II.,  and  Henry  IV.;  one  book  of  law,  called  "Natura 
Brevium  ;"  one  Portus,  and  one  Par  Statutorum  Veterum. — Testamenta  Eboracensia,  ii. 
p.  27. 

t  There  are  other  inventories  of  the  goods  of  clerics,  which  will  help  to  throw  light 
upon  their  domestic  economy  at  different  periods,  e.g.,  of  the  vicar  of  Waghen,  a.d.  1462, 
in  the  York  Wills,  ii.  261,  and  of  a  chantry  priest,  A.D.  1542,  in  the  Sussex  Archaeological 
Collections,  iii.  p.  115. 

\  Bonn's  Edition,  vol.  ii.  p.  278. 

Hospitality  of  tJie  Clergy.  263 

high  table  on  the  dais,  with  his  family  on  either  side  of  him ;  and  his  men 
sat  at  the  movable  tables  of  boards  and  trestles,  with  a  bench  on  each  side, 
which  we  find  mentioned  in  the  inventories  :  or  the  master  sat  at  the  same 
table  with  his  men,  only  he  sat  above  the  salt  and  they  below ;  he  drank 
his  ale  out  of  a  silver  cup  while  they  drank  it  out  of  horn ;  he  ate  white 
bread  while  they  ate  brown,  and  he  a  capon  out  of  his  curtilage  while 
they  had  pork  or  mutton  ham ;  he  retired  to  his  great  chamber  when  he 
desired  privacy,  which  was  not  often  perhaps ;  and  he  slept  in  a  tester  bed 
in  the  great  chamber,  while  they  slept  on  truckle  beds  in  the  hall. 

One  item  in  the  description  of  the  Kelvedon  parsonage  requires  special 
consideration,  and  opens  up  a  rather  important  question  as  to  the  domestic 
economy  of  the  parochial  clergy  over  and  above  what  we  have  hitherto 
gleaned.  "  The  convenient  chamber  for  guests  "  there  mentioned  was  not 
a  best  bedroom  for  any  friend  who  might  pay  him  a  visit.  It  was  a  pro- 
vision for  the  efficient  exercise  of  the  hospitality  to  which  the  beneficed 
parochial  clergy  were  bound.  It  is  a  subject  which  perhaps  needs  a  little 
explanation.  In  England  there  were  no  inns  where  travellers  could  obtain 
food  and  lodging  until  the  middle  of  the  fourteenth  century  ;  and  for  long 
after  that  period  they  could  only  be  found  in  the  largest  and  most  important 
towns ;  and  it  was  held  to  be  a  part  of  the  duty  of  the  clergy  to  "  entertain 
strangers,"  and  be  "  given  to  hospitality."  It  was  a  charity  not  very  likely 
to  be  abused ;  for,  thanks  to  bad  roads,  unbridged  fords,  no  inns,  wild 
moors,  and  vast  forests  haunted  by  lawless  men,  very  few  travelled,  except 
for  serious  business  ;  and  it  was  a  real  act  of  Christian  charity  to  afford  to 
such  travellers  the  food  and  shelter  which  they  needed,  and  would  have 
been  hard  put  to  it  to  have  obtained  otherwise.  The  monasteries,  we  all 
know,  exercised  this  hospitality  on  so  large  a  scale,  that  in  order  to  avoid 
the  interruption  a  constant  succession  of  guests  would  have  made  in  the 
seclusion  and  regularity  of  conventual  life,  they  provided  special  buildings 
for  it,  called  the  hospitium  or  guest  house,  a  kind  of  inn  within  the  walls, 
and  they  appointed  one  of  the  monks,  under  the  name  of  the  hospitaller 
or  guest  master,  to  represent  the  convent  in  entertaining  the  guests. 
Hermitages  also,  we  have  seen,  were  frequently  built  along  the  high  roads, 
especially  near  bridges  and  fords,  for  the   purpose  of  aiding  travellers. 

264  The  Secular  Clergy  of  the  Middle  Ages. 

Along  the  road  which  led  towards  some  famous  place  of  pilgrimage  hos- 
pitals, which  were  always  religious  foundations,  were  founded  especially 
for  the  entertainment  of  poor  pilgrims.  And  the  parochial  clergy  were 
expected  to  exercise  a  similar  hospitality.  Thus  in  the  replies  of  the 
rectors  of  Berkshire  to  the  papal  legate,  in  1240  a.d.,  they  say  that  "  their 
churches  were  endowed  and  enriched  by  their  patrons  with  lands  and 
revenues  for  the  especial  purpose  that  the  rectors  of  them  should  receive 
guests,  rich  as  well  as  poor,  and  show  hospitality  to  laity  as  well  as  clergy, 
according  to  their  means,  as  the  custom  of  the  place  required."  *  Again, 
in  1246,  the  clergy,  on  a  similar  occasion,  stated  that  "a  custom  has 
hitherto  prevailed,  and  been  observed  in  England,  that  the  rectors  of 
parochial  churches  have  always  been  remarkable  for  hospitality,  and  have 
made  a  practice  of  supplying  food  to  their  parishioners  who  were  in 
want,  ....  and  if  a  portion  of  their  benefices  be  taken  away  from  them, 
they  will  be  under  the  necessity  of  refusing  their  hospitality,  and  aban- 
doning their  accustomed  offices  of  piety.  And  if  these  be  withdrawn, 
they  will  incur  the  hatred  of  those  subject  to  them  [their  parishioners],  and 
will  lose  the  favour  of  passers-by  [travellers]  and  their  neighbours."  t 
Again,  in  1253  a.d.,  Bishop  Grostete,  in  his  remonstrance  to  the  Pope, 
says  of  the  foreigners  who  were  intruded  into  English  benefices,  that  they 
"  could  not  even  take  up  their  residence,  to  administer  to  the  wants  of  the 
poor,  and  to  receive  travellers."  \ 

There  is  an  interesting  passage  illustrative  of  the  subject  quoted  in 
Parker's  "  Domestic  Architecture,"  i.  p.  123.  y£neus  Sylvius,  afterwards 
Pope  Pius  II.,  describing  his  journey  from  Scotland  into  England,  in  the 
year  1448,  says  that  he  entered  a  large  village  in  a  wild  and  barbarous 
part  of  the  country,  about  sunset,  and  "  alighted  at  a  rustic's  house,  and 
supped  there  with  the  priest  of  the  place  and  the  host."  The  special 
mention  of  the  priest  in  the  first  place  almost  leads  us  to  conjecture  that 
the  foreign  ecclesiastic  had  first  gone  to  the  priest  of  the  place  for  the 
usual  hospitality,  and  had  been  taken  on  by  him  to  the  manor  house — for 

*  Matthew  Paris,  vol.  i.  p.  285  (Bohn's  edition), 
t  Ibid.,  vol.  ii.  p.  193. 
\  Ibid.,  voliii.  p  48. 

Hospitality  of  the  Clergy.  265 

the  "  rustic  "  seems  to  have  been  a  squire — as  better  able  to  afford  him  a 
suitable  hospitality.  Sundry  pottages,  and  fowls,  and  geese,  were  placed 
on  the  table,  but  there  was  neither  bread  nor  wine.  He  had,  however, 
brought  with  him  a  few  loaves  and  a  roundel  of  wine,  which  he  had 
received  at  a  certain  monastery.  Either  a  stranger  was  a  great  novelty,  or 
the  Italian  ecclesiastic  had  something  remarkable  in  his  appearance,  for 
he  says  all  "  the  people  of  the  place  ran  to  the  house  to  stare  at  him." 

Kelvedon  being  on  one  of  the  great  high  roads  of  the  country,  its  parson 
would  often  be  called  upon  to  exercise  his  duty  of  hospitality,  hence  the 
provision  of  a  special  guest  chamber  in  the  parsonage  house.  And  so  in  our 
picture  of  the  domestic  economy  and  ordinary  life  of  a  mediaeval  country 
parson  we  must  furnish  his  guest  chamber,  and  add  a  little  to  the  contents 
of  buttery  and  cellar,  to  provide  for  his  duty  of  hospitality ;  and  we  must 
picture  him  not  always  sitting  in  solitary  dignity  at  his  high  table  on  the 
dais,  but  often  playing  the  courteous  host  to  knight  and  lady,  merchant, 
minstrel,  or  pilgrim ;  and  after  dinner  giving  the  broken  meat  to  the  poor, 
who  in  the  days  when  there  was  no  poor  law  were  the  regular  dependants 
on  his  bounty. 



T  would  carry  us  too  far  a-field  to  attempt  to  give  a  sketch  of  the 
early  music  of  the  principal  nations  of  antiquity,  such  as  might 
be  deduced  from  the  monuments  of  Egypt  and  Nineveh  and 
Greece.  We  may,  however,  briefly  glance  at  the  most  ancient  minstrelsy 
of  the  Israelites ;  partly  for  the  sake  of  the  peculiar  interest  of  the  subject 
itself,  partly  because  the  early  history  of  music  is  nearly  the  same  in  all 
nations,  and  this  earliest  history  will  illustrate  and  receive  illustration 
from  a  comparison  with  the  history  of  music  in  mediaeval  England. 

Musical  instruments,  we  are  told  by  the  highest  of  all  authorities,  were 
invented  in  the  eighth  generation  of  the  world — that  is  in  the  third  gene- 
ration before  the  flood — by  Tubal,  "  the  Father  of  all  such  as  handle  the 
harp  and  organ,  both  stringed  and  wind  instruments."  The  ancient 
Israelites  used  musical  instruments  on  the  same  occasions  as  the  mediaeval 
Europeans — in  battle ;  in  their  feasts  and  dances  ;  in  processions,  whether 
of  religious  or  civil  ceremony ;  and  in  the  solemnising  of  divine  worship. 
The  trumpet  and  the  horn  were  then,  as  always,  the  instruments  of  warlike 
music — "  If  ye  go  to  war  then  shall  ye  blow  an  alarm  with  the  silver 
trumpets."*  The  trumpet  regulated  the  march  of  the  hosts  of  Israel 
through  the   wilderness.     When   Joshua   compassed   Jericho,    the   seven 

*  Numb.  x.  9. 

268  The  Minstrels  of  the  Middle  Ages. 

priests  blew  trumpets  of  rams'  horns.  Gideon  and  his  three  hundred  dis- 
comfited the  host  of  the  Midianites  with  the  sound  of  their  trumpets. 

The  Tabret  was  the  common  accompaniment  of  the  troops  of  female 
dancers,  whether  the  occasion  were  religious  or  festive.  Miriam  the 
prophetess  took  a  timbrel  in  her  hand,  and  all  the  women  went  out 
after  her  with  timbrels  and  with  dances,  singing  a  solemn  chorus  to  the 
triumphant  song  of  Moses  and  of  the  Children  of  Israel  over  the  destruc- 
tion of  Pharaoh  in  the  Red  Sea, — 

"  Sing  ye  to  the  Lord,  for  he  hath  triumphed  gloriously; 
The  horse  and  his  rider  hath  he  thrown  into  the  sea."* 

Jephthah's  daughter  went  to  meet  her  victorious  father  with  timbrels  and 

dances : — 

"  The  daughter  of  the  warrior  Gileadite, 
From  Mizpeh's  tower'd  gate  with  welcome  light, 
With  timbrel  and  with  song." 

And  so,  when  King  Saul  returned  from  the  slaughter  of  the  Philistines, 
after  the  shepherd  David  had  killed  their  giant  champion  in  the  valley 
of  Elah,  the  women  came  out  of  all  the  cities  to  meet  the  returning 
warriors  "  singing  and  dancing  to  meet  King  Saul,  with  tabrets,  with  joy, 
and  with  instruments  of  music;"  and  the  women  answered  one  another  in 
dramatic  chorus — 

"  Saul  hath  slain  his  thousands, 
And  David  his  ten  thousands."f 

Laban  says  that  he  would  have  sent  away  Jacob  and  his  wives  and 
children,  "  with  mirth  and  with  songs,  with  tabret  and  with  harp."  And 
Jeremiah  prophesying  that  times  of  ease  and  prosperity  shall  come  again 
for  Israel,  says :  "  O  Virgin  of  Israel,  thou  shalt  again  be  adorned  with 
thy  tabrets,  and  shalt  go  forth  in  the  dances  of  them  that  make  merry."  J 

In  their  feasts  these  and  many  other  instruments  were  used.  Isaiah  tells 
us§  that  they  had  "the  harp,  and  the  viol,  the  tabret,  and  pipe,  and 
wine  in  their  feasts ; "  and  Amos  tells  us  of  the  luxurious  people  who  lie 
upon  beds  of  ivory,  and  "  chant  to  the  sound  of  the  viol,  and  invent  to 

•  Exod.  xv.  21.  t  *  Sam-  xviii-  7-  +  Jer>  xxxi-  4-  h  Is-  v»  l2' 

Minstrelsy  of  the  Israelites.  269 

themselves  instruments  of  music  like  David,'-'  and  drink  wine  in  bowls,  and 
anoint  themselves  with  the  costliest  perfumes. 

Instruments  of  music  were  used  in  the  colleges  of  Prophets,  which 
Samuel  established  in  the  land,  to  accompany  and  inspire  the  delivery  of 
their  prophetical  utterances.  As  Saul,  newly  anointed,  went  up  the  hill 
of  God  towards  the  city,  he  met  a  company  of  prophets  coming  down, 
with  a  psaltery,  and  a  tabret,  and  a  pipe,  and  a  harp  before  them,  pro- 
phesying ;  and  the  spirit  of  the  Lord  came  upon  Saul  when  he  heard,  and 
he  also  prophesied.*  When  Elisha  was  requested  byjehoram  to  prophesy 
the  fate  of  the  battle  with  the  Moabites,  he  said  :  "  Bring  me  a  minstrel ; 
and  when  the  minstrel  played,  the  hand  of  the  Lord  came  upon  him,  and 
he  prophesied." 

When  David  brought  up  the  ark  from  Gibeah,  he  and  all  the  house  of 
Israel  played  before  the  Lord  on  all  manner  of  instruments  made  of  fir- 
wood,  even  on  harps,  psalteries,  timbrels,  comets,  and  cymbals.t  And 
in  the  song  which  he  himself  composed  to  be  sung  on  that  occasion,!  he 
thus  describes  the  musical  part  of  the  procession  : — 

"  It  is  well  seen  how  thou  goest, 
How  thou,  my  God  and  King,  goest  to  the  sanctuary; 
The  singers  go  before,  the  minstrels  follow  after, 
In  the  midst  are  the  damsels  playing  with  the  timbrels." 

The  instruments  appointed  for  the  regular  daily  service  of  the  Temple 
"  by  David,  and  Gad  the  king's  seer,  and  Nathan  the  prophet,  for  so  was 
the  commandment  of  the  Lord  by  his  prophets,"  were  cymbals,  psalteries, 
and  harps,  which  David  made  for  the  purpose,  and  which  were  played  by 
four  thousand  Levites. 

Besides  the  instruments  already  mentioned, — the  harp,  tabret,  timbrel, 
psaltery,  trumpet,  cornet,  cymbal,  pipe,  and  viol, — they  had  also  the  lyre, 
bag-pipes,  and  bells;  and  probably  they  carried  back  with  them  from 
Babylon  further  additions,  from  the  instruments  of  "  all  peoples,  nations, 
and  languages  "  with  which  they  would  become  familiarised  in  that  capital 
of  the  world.     But  from  the  time  of  Tubal  down  to  the  time  when  the 

•  1  Sam.  x.  5.  t  2  Sam.  vi.  5.  J  Psalm  Lwiii. 

2  JO  The  Minstrels  of  the  Middle  Ages. 

royal  minstrel  of  Israel  sang  those  glorious  songs  which  are  still  the  daily 
solace  of  thousands  of  mankind,  and  further  down  to  the  time  when 
the  captive  Israelites  hanged  their  unstrung  harps  upon  the  willows  of 
Babylon,  and  could  not  sing  the  songs  of  Zion  in  a  strange  land,  the  harp 
continued  still  the  fitting  accompaniment  of  the  voice  in  all  poetical 
utterance  of  a  dignified  and  solemn  character  : — the  recitation  of  the 
poetical  portions  of  historical  and  prophetical  Scripture,  for  instance, 
would  be  sustained  by  it,  and  the  songs  of  the  psalmists  of  Zion  were 
accompanied  by  its  strains.  And  thus  this  sketch  of  the  history  of  the 
earliest  music  closes,  with  the  minstrel  harp  still  in  the  foreground ;  while 
in  the  distance  we  hear  the  sound  of  the  fanfare  of  cornet,  flute,  harp, 
sackbut,  psaltery,  dulcimer,  and  all  kinds  of  music,  which  were  con- 
certed on  great  occasions  ;  such  as  that  on  which  they  resounded  over  the 
plain  of  Dura,  to  bow  that  bending  crowd  of  heads,  as  the  ripe  corn  bends 
before  the  wind,  to  the  great  Image  of  Gold  : — an  idolatry,  alas  !  which 
the  peoples,  nations,  and  languages  still  perform  almost  as  fervently  as 
of  old. 

The  northern  Bard,  or  Scald,  was  the  father  of  the  minstrels  of  medi- 
aeval Europe.  Our  own  early  traditions  afford  some  picturesque  anecdotes, 
proving  the  high  estimation  in  which  the  character  was  held  by  the 
Saxons  and  their  kindred  Danes  ;  and  showing  that  they  were  accustomed 
to  wander  about  to  court,  and  camp,  and  hall ;  and  were  hospitably  received, 
even  though  the  Bard  were  of  a  race  against  which  his  hosts  were  at  that 
very  time  encamped  in  hostile  array.  We  will  only  remind  the  reader  of 
the  Royal  Alfred's  assumption  of  the  character  of  a  minstrel,  and  his  visit 
in  that  disguise  to  the  Danish  camp  (a.d.  878) ;  and  of  the  similar  visit, 
ten  years  after,  of  Anlaff  the  Danish  king  to  the  camp  of  Saxon  Athelstane. 
But  the  earliest  anecdote  of  the  kind  we  shall  have  hereafter  to  refer  to, 
and  may  therefore  here  detail  at  length.  It  is  told  us  by  Geoffrey  of  Mon- 
mouth, that  Coigrin,  the  son  of  Ella,  who  succeeded  Hengist  in  the  leader- 
ship of  the  invading  Saxons,  was  shut  up  in  York,  and  closely  besieged  by 
King  Arthur  and  his  Britons.  Baldulf,  the  brother  of  Colgrin,  wanted  to 
gain  access  to  him,  to  apprise  him  of  a  reinforcement  which  was  coming 

Saxon  Minstrelsy.  271 

from  Germany.  In  order  to  accomplish  this  design,  he  assumed  the 
character  of  a  minstrel.  He  shaved  his  head  and  beard  ;  and  dressing 
himself  in  the  habit  of  that  profession,  took  his  harp  in  his  hand.  In 
this  disguise  he  walked  up  and  down  the  trenches  without  suspicion, 
playing  all  the  while  upon  his  instrument  as  a  harper.  By  little  and  little 
he  approached  the  walls  of  the  city ;  and,  making  himself  known  to  the 
sentinels,  was  in  the  night  drawn  up  by  a  rope. 

The  harper  continued  throughout  the  Middle  Ages  to  be  the  most  digni- 
fied of  the  minstrel  craft,  the  reciter,  and  often  the  composer,  of  heroic 
legend  and  historical  tale,  of  wild  romance  and  amorous  song.  Frequently, 
and  perhaps  especially  in  the  case  of  the  higher  class  of  harpers,  he 
travelled  alone,  as  in  the  cases  which  we  have  already  seen  of  Baldulf, 
and  Alfred,  and  Anlaff.  But  he  also  often  associated  himself  with  a  band 
of  minstrels,  who  filled  up  the  intervals  of  his  recitations  and  songs  with 
their  music,  much  as  vocal  and  instrumental  pieces  are  alternated  in 
our  modern  concerts.  With  a  band  of  minstrels  there  was  also  very 
usually  associated  a  mime,  who  amused  the  audience  with  his  feats  of 
agility  and  leger-de-main.  The  association  appears  at  first  sight  somewhat 
undignified — the  heroic  harper  and  the  tumbler — but  the  incongruity  was 
not  peculiar  to  the  Middle  Ages ;  the  author  of  the  "  Iliad  "  wrote  the 
"  Battle  of  the  Frogs," — the  Greeks  were  not  satisfied  without  a  satiric 
drama  after  their  grand  heroic  tragedy  ;  and  in  these  days  we  have  a  farce 
or  a  pantomime  after  Shakspeare.  We  are  not  all  Heraclituses,  to  see  only 
the  tragic  side  of  life,  or  Democrituses,  to  laugh  at  everything;  the 
majority  of  men  have  faculties  to  appreciate  both  classes  of  emotion  ; 
and  it  would  seem,  from  universal  experience,  that,  as  the  Russian  finds  a 
physical  delight  in  leaping  from  a  vapour-bath  into  the  frozen  Neva,  so 
there  is  some  mental  delight  in  the  sudden  alternate  excitation  of  the  oppo- 
site emotions  of  tragedy  and  farce.  If  we  had  time  to  philosophise,  we 
might  find  the  source  of  the  delight  deeply  seated  in  our  nature  :— alternate 
tears  and  laughter — it  is  an  epitome  of  human  life  ! 

In  the  accompanying  woodcut  from  a  Late  Saxon  MS.  in  the  British 
Museum  (Cott.  Tiberius  C.  vi.)  we  have  a  curious  evidence  of  the  way  in 
which  custom  blinded  men  to  any  incongruity  there  may  be  in  the  asso- 


The  Minstrels  of  the  Middle  Ages. 

ciation  of  the  harper  and  the  juggler,  for  here  we  have  David  singing 
his  Psalms  and  accompanying  himself  on  the  harp,  the  dove  reminding 
us  that  he  sang  and  harped  under  the  influence  of  inspiration.  He  is 
accompanied  by  performers  who  must  be  Levites  ;  and  yet  the  Saxon  illu- 
minator was  so  used  to  see  a  mime  form  one  of  a  minstrel  band,  that  he 

Saxon  Band  of  Minstrels. 

has  introduced  one  playing  the  common  feat  of  tossing  three  knives  and 
three  balls. 

The  Saxons  were  a  musical  people.  We  learn  from  Bede's  anecdote  of  the 
poet  Caedmon,  that  it  was  usual  at  their  feasts  to  pass  the  harp  round  from 
hand  to  hand,  and  every  man  was  supposed  to  be  able  to  sing  in  his  turn, 
and  accompany  himself  on  the  instrument.    They  had  a  considerable  num* 

Saxon  Musical  Instruments. 


ber  of  musical  instruments.  In  a  MS.  in  the  British  Museum,  Tiberius 
C.  vi.,  folios  16  v.,  17  v.,  18,  are  a  few  leaves  of  a  formal  treatise  on  the 
subject,  which  give  us  very  carefully  drawn  pictures  of  different  instruments, 
with  their  names  and  descriptions.  There  are  also  illustrations  of  them 
in  the  Add.  11,695,  folios  86,  86  v.,  164,  170  v.,  229,  and  in  Cleopatra 
E.  viii.  Among  them  are  the  Psaltery  of  various  shapes,  the  Sambuca 
or  sackbut,  the  single  and  double  Chorus.  &c.  Other  instruments  we 
find  in  Saxon  MSS.  are  the  lyre,  viol,  flute,  cymbals,  organ,  &c.  A 
set  of  hand-bells  (carillons)  which  the  player  struck  with  two  hammers, 
was  a  favourite  instrument.     We  often  find  different  instruments  played 

Saxon  Organ. 

together.  At  folio  93  v.  of  the  MS.  Claudius  B  iv.  there  is  a  group  of  twelve 
female  harpists  playing  together ;  one  has  a  small  instrument,  probably  a 
kind  of  lyre,  the  rest  have  great  harps  of  the  same  pattern.  They  probably 
represent  Miriam  and  the  women  of  Israel  joining  in  the  triumphal  song 
of  Moses  over  the  destruction  of  the  Egyptians  in  the  Red  Sea. 

The   organ,   already  introduced    into    divine  service,   became,   under 
the  hands  of  St.  Dunstan,  a  large  and  important  instrument.     William  of 

274  The  Minstrels  of  the  Middle  Ages, 

Malmesbury  says  that  Dunstan  gave  many  to  churches  which  had  pipes  of 
brass  and  were  inflated  with  bellows.  In  a  MS.  psalter  in  Trinity  College, 
Cambridge,  is  a  picture  of  one  of  considerable  size,  which  has  no  less  than 
four  bellows  played  by  four  men.  It  is  represented  in  the  accompanying 

1'he  Northmen  who  invaded  and  gave  their  name  to  Normandy,  took 
their  minstrels  with  them ;  and  the  learned  assert  that  it  was  from  them 
that  the  troubadours  of  Provence  learned  their  art,  which  ripened  in 
their  sunny  clime  into  la  joyeuse  science,  and  thence  was  carried  into  Italy, 
France,  and  Spain.  It  is  quite  certain  that  minstrelsy  was  in  high  repute 
among  the  Normans  at  the  period  of  the  Conquest.  Every  one  will  re- 
member how  Taillefer,  the  minstrel-knight,  commenced  the  great  battle  of 
Hastings.  Advancing  in  front  of  the  Norman  host,  he  animated  himself 
and  them  to  a  chivalric  daring  by  chanting  the  heroic  tale  of  Charlemagne 
and  his  Paladins,  at  the  same  time  showing  feats  of  skill  in  tossing  his 
sword  into  the  air ;  and  then  rushed  into  the  Saxon  ranks,  like  a  divinely- 
mad  hero  of  old,  giving  in  his  own  self-sacrifice  an  augury  of  victory  to  his 

From  the  period  of  the  Conquest,  authorities  on  the  subject  of  which 
we  are  treating,  though  still  not  so  numerous  as  could  be  desired,  become 
too  numerous  to  be  all  included  within  the  limits  to  which  our  space 
restricts  us.  The  reader  may  refer  to  Wharton's  "History  of  English 
Poetry,"  to  Bishop  Percy's  introductory  essay  to  the  "  Reiiques  of  Early 
English  Poetry,"  and  to  the  introductory  essay  to  Ellis's  "  Early  English 
Metrical  Romances,"  for  the  principal  published  authorities.  For  a  series 
of  learned  essays  on  mediaeval  musical  instruments  he  may  consult 
M.  Didron's  "  Annales  Archasologiques,"  vol.  iii.  pp.  76,  142,  260;  vol.  iv. 
pp.  25,  94;  vol.  vi.  p.  315  ;  vol.  vii.  pp.  92,  157,  244,  325  ;  vol.  viii.  p. 
242  j  vol.  ix.  pp.  289,  329.*  We  propose  only  from  these  and  other 
published  and  unpublished  materials  to  give  a  popular  sketch  of  the 

Throughout   this   period   minstrelsy  was   in  high   estimation   with   all 

*  Also  a  paper  read  before  the  London  and  Middlesex  Architectural  Society  in  June, 

Domestic  Minstrels,  275 

classes  of  society.  The  king  himself,  like  his  Saxon*  predecessors,  had  a 
kings  minstrel,  or  king  of  the  minstrels,  who  probably  from  the  first  was  at 
the  head  of  a  band  of  royal  minstrels,  t 

This  fashion  of  the  royal  court,  doubtless,  like  all  its  other  fashions, 
obtained  also  in  the  courts  of  the  great  nobility  (several  instances  will  be 
observed  in  the  sequel),  and  in  their  measure  in  the  households  of  the 
lesser  nobility.  Every  gentleman  of  estate  had  probably  his  one,  two,  or 
more  minstrels  as  a  regular  part  of  his  household.  It  is  not  difficult  to 
discover  their  duties.  In  the  representations  of  dinners,  which  occur  plen- 
tifully in  the  mediaeval  MSS.,  we  constantly  find  musicians  introduced ; 
sometimes  we  see  them  preceding  the  servants,  who  are  bearing  the  dishes 
to  table — a  custom  of  classic  usage,  and  which  still  lingers  to  this  day 
at  Queen's  College,  Oxford,  in  the  song  with  which  the  choristers  usher  in 
the  boar's  head  on   Christmas-day,  and  at  our  modern  public  dinners, 

*  The  king's  minstrel  of  the  last  Saxon  king  is  mentioned  in  Domesday  Book  as  hold- 
ing lands  in  Gloucestershire. 

t  In  the  reign  of  Henry  I.,  Rayer  was  the  King's  Minstrel.  Temp.  Henry  H.,  it  was 
Galfrid,  or  Jeffrey.  Temp.  Richard  I.,  Blondel,  of  romantic  memory.  Temp.  Henry  III., 
Master  Ricard.  It  was  the  Harper  of  Prince  Edward  (afterwards  King  Edward  I.)  who 
brained  the  assassin  who  attempted  the  Prince's  life,  when  his  noble  wife  Eleanor  risked 
hers  to  extract  the  poison  from  the  wound.  In  Edward  I.'s  reign  we  have  mention  of  a 
King  Robert,  who  may  be  the  impetuous  minstrel  of  the  Prince.  Temp.  Edward  II., 
there  occur  two  :  a  grant  of  houses  was  made  to  William  de  Morley,  the  King's  Min- 
strel, which  had  been  held  by  his  predecessor,  John  de  Boteler.  At  St.  Bride's,  Glamor- 
ganshire, is  the  insculpt  effigy  of  a  knightly  figure,  of  the  date  of  Edward  I.,  with  an 
inscription  to  John  le  Boteler ;  but  there  is  nothing  to  identify  him  with  the  king  of  the 
minstrels.  Temp.  Richard  II.,  John  Camuz  was  the  king  of  his  minstrels.  "When 
Henry  V.  went  to  France,  he  took  his  fifteen  minstrels,  and  Walter  Haliday,  their  Mar- 
shal, with  him.  After  this  time  the  chief  of  the  royal  minstrels  seems  to  have  been  st\  led 
Marshal  instead  of  King  ;  and  in  the  next  reign  but  one  we  find  a  Sergeant  of  the  Min- 
strels. Temp.  Henry  VI.,  "Walter  Haliday  was  still  Marshal  of  the  Minstrels; 
and  this  king  issued  a  commission  for  impressing  boys  to  supply  vacancies  in  their 
number.  King  Edward  IV.  granted  to  the  said  long-lived  Walter  Haliday,  Mar- 
shal, and  to  seven  others,  a  charter  for  the  restoration  of  a  Fraternity  or  Gild,  to  be 
governed  by  a  marshal  and  two  wardens,  to  regulate  the  minstrels  throughout  the  realm 
(except  those  of  Chester).  The  minstrels  of  the  royal  chapel  establishment  of  this  king 
were  thirteen  in  number ;  some  trumpets,  some  shalms,  some  small  pipes,  and  other? 
singers.  The  charter  of  Edward  TV.  was  renewed  by  Henry  VIII.  in  1520,  to  Jonn 
Gilman,  his  then  marshal,  on  whose  death  Hugh  Wodehouse  was  promoted  to  the  office, 


The  Minstrels  of  the  Middle  Ages. 

when  the  band  strikes  up  "  Oh  the  Roast  Beef  of  Old  England,"  as  that 
national  dish  is  brought  to  table. 

We  give  here  an  illustration  of  such  a  scene  from  a  very  fine  MS.  of  the 
early  part  of  the  fourteenth  century,  in  the  British  Museum  (marked  Royal  2 
B  vii.,  f.  184  v.  and  185).  A  very  fine  representation  of  a  similar  scene  occurs 
at  the  foot  of  the  large  Flemish  Brass  of  Robert  Braunche  and  his  two  wives 
in  St.  Margaret's  Church,  Lynn ;  the  scene  is  intended  as  a  delineation  of  a 
feast  given  by  the  corporation  of  Lynn  to  King  Edward  III.  Servants  from 
both  sides  of  the  picture  are  bringing  in  that  famous  dish  of  chivalry,  the 
peacock  with  his  tail  displayed ;  and  two  bands  of  minstrels  are  ushering 

A  Royal  Dinner. 

in  the  banquet  with  their  strains  :  the  date  of  the  brass  is  about  1364  a.d. 
In  the  fourteenth-century  romance  of  "  Richard  Cceur  de  Lion,"  we  read  of 
some  knights  who  have  arrived  in  presence  of  the  romance  king  whom  they 
are  in  quest  of;  dinner  is  immediately  prepared  for  them ;  "  trestles,"  says 
Ellis  in  his  abstract  of  it,  "  were  immediately  set ;  a  table  covered  with  a 
silken  cloth  was  laid ;  a  rich  repast,  ushered  in  by  the  sound  of  trumpets 
and  shalms,  was  served  up."* 

Having  introduced  the  feast,  the  minstrels  continued  to  play  during  its 
progress.  We  find  numerous  representations  of  dinners  in  the  illuminations, 
in  which  one  or  two  minstrels  are  standing  beside  the  table,  playing  their 
instruments  during  the  progress  of  the  meal.    In  a  MS.  volume  of  romances 

•  Ellis's  "  Earl    English  Metrical  Romances  "  (Bohn's  edition),  p.  287. 

Domestic  Minstrels. 


of  the  early  part  of  the  fourteenth  century  in  the  British  Museum  (Royal 
14  E  iii.),  the  title-page  of  the  romance  of  the  "  Quete  du  St.  Graal " 
(at  folio  89  of  the  MS.)  is  adorned  with  an  illumination  of  a  royal  banquet ; 
a  squire  on  his  knee  (as  in  the  illustration  given  on  opposite  page)  is  carving, 
and  a  minstrel  stands  beside  the  table  playing  the  violin ;  he  is  dressed  in 
a  parti-coloured  tunic  of  red  and  blue,  and  wears  his  hat.  In  the  Royal 
MS.  2  B  vii.,  at  folio  168,  is  a  similar  representation  of  a  dinner,  in  which 
a  minstrel  stands  playing  the  violin ;  he  is  habited  in  a  red  tunic,  and  is 

Royal  Dinner  of  the  time  of  Edward  IV. 

bareheaded.  At  folio  203  of  the  same  MS.  (Royal  2  B  vii.),  is  another 
representation  of  a  dinner,  in  which  two  minstrels  are  introduced  \  one 
(wearing  his  hood)  is  playing  a  cittern,  the  other  (bareheaded)  is  playing  a 
violin  :  and  these  references  might  be  multiplied. 

We  reproduce  here,  in  further  illustration  of  the  subject,  engravings  of 
a  royal  dinner  of  about  the  time  of  our  Edward  IV.,  "  taken  from  an  illu- 
mination of  the  romance  of  the  Compte  d'Artois,  in  the  possession  of 

The  Minstrels  of  the  Middle  Ages. 

M.  Barrois,  a  distinguished  and  well-known  collector  in  Paris."*     The 
other  is  an  exceedingly  interesting  representation  oi  a  grand  imperial  ban- 

lmperial  Banquet. 

quet,  from  one  of  the  plates  of  Hans  Burgmair,  in  the  volume  dedicated 
to   the    exploits   of    the   Emperor    Maximilian,   contemporary   with   our 

From  Mr.  T.  Wright's  "  Domestic  Manners  of  the  English." 

Domestic  Minstrels, 


Henry  VIII.  It  represents  the  entrance  of  a  masque,  one  of  those 
strange  entertainments,  of  which  our  ancestors,  in  the  time  of  Henry  and 
Elizabeth,  were  so  fond,  and  of  which  Mr.  C.  Kean  some  years  ago  gave 
the  play-going  world  of  London  so  accurate  a  representation  in  his  mise  en 
scene  of  Henry  VIII.  at  the  Princess's  Theatre.  The  band  of  minstrels 
who  have  been  performing  during  the  banquet,  are  seen  in  the  left  corner 
of  the  picture. 

So  in  "  The  Squiefs  Tale  "  of  Chaucer,  where  Cambuscan  is  "  holding 
his  feste  so  solempne  and  so  riche." 

"  It  so  befel,  that  after  the  thridde  cours, 
While  that  this  king  sat  thus  in  his  nobley,* 
Harking  his  ministralles  herf  thinges  play, 
Befome  him  at  his  bord  deliciously,"  &c. 

The  custom  of  having  instrumental  music  as  an  accompaniment  of  dinner 


is  still  retained  by  her  Majesty  and  by  some  of  the  greater  nobility,  by 
military  messes,  and  at  great  public  dinners.  But  the  musical  accompani- 
ment of  a  mediaeval  dinner  was  not  confined  to  instrumental  performances. 
We  frequently  find  a  harper  introduced,  who  is  doubtless  reciting  some 
romance  or  history,  or  singing  chansons  of  a  lighter  character.  He  is  often 
represented  as  sitting  upon  the  floor,  as  in  the  accompanying  illustration, 
from  the  Royal  MS.,  2  B  vii.,  folio  71b.     Another  similar  representation 

•  Among  his  nobles. 

t  Their. 


The  Minstrels  of  the  Middle  Ages. 

occurs  at  folio  203  b  of  the  same  MS.  In  the  following  very  charming 
picture,  from  a  MS.  volume  of  romances  of  early  fourteenth  century  date 
in  the  British  Museum  (Additional  MS.,  10,292,  folio  200),  the  harper  is 
sitting  upon  the  table. 

Gower,  in  his  "  Confessio  Amantis,"  gives  us  a  description  of  a  scene  of 
the  kind.  Appolinus  is  dining  in  the  hall  of  King  Pentapolin,  with  the 
king  and  queen  and  their  fair  daughter,  and  all  his  "  lordes  in  estate.' 
Appolinus  was  reminded  by  the  scene  of  the  royal  estate  from  which  he  is 

Royal  Harper. 

fallen,  and   sorrowed  and  took  no   meat;  therefore  the   king  bade  hk 

daughter  take  her  harp  and  do  all  that  she  can  to  enliven  that  "  sorry 


"And  she  todou  her  fader's  hest, 
Her  harpe  fette,  and  in  the  feste 
Upon  a  chaire  which  thei  fette, 
Her  selve  next  to  this  man  she  sette." 

Appolinus  in  turn  takes  the  harp,  and  proves  himself  a  wonderful  pro 

ficient,  and 

"  When  he  hath  harped  all  his  fille, 
The  kingis  hest  to  fulfille, 
A  waie  goth  dishe,  a  waie  goth  cup, 
Doun  goth  the  borde,  the  cloth  was  up, 
Thei  risen  and  gone  out  of  the  halle." 

Music  and  Dancing. 


In  the  sequel,  the  interesting  stranger  was  made  tutor  to  the  princess, 
and  among  other  teachings, 

"  He  taught  hir  till  she  was  certeyne 
Of  harpe,  citole,  and  of  riote, 
With  many  a  tewne  and  many  a  note, 
Upon  musike,  upon  measure, 
And  of  her  harpe  the  temprure, 
He  taught  her  eke,  as  he  well  couth." 

Another  occasion  on  which  their  services  would  be  required  would  be 
for  the  dance.  Thus  we  read  in  the  sequel  of  "  The  Squire's  Tale,"  how 
the  king  and  his  "  nobley,"  when  dinner  was  ended,  rose  from  table,  and, 
preceded  by  the  minstrels,  went  to  the  great  chamber  for  the  dance  : — 

"  Wan  that  this  Tartar  king,  this  Cambuscan, 
Rose  from  his  bord  ther  as  he  sat  ful  hie ; 
Beforne  him  goth  the  loude"  minstralcie, 
Til  he  come  to  his  chambre  of  parements,* 
rheras  they  sounden  divers  instruments, 
That  it  is  like  an  Heaven  for  to  here. 
Now  dauncen  lusty  Venus  children  dere,"  &c. 

In  the  tale  of  Dido  and  ^Eneas,  in  the  legend  of  "  Good  Women,"  he 
calls  it  especially  the  dancing  chamber  : — 

Mediaeval  Dance. 

"  To  dauncing  chambers  full  of  paraments, 
Of  riche  bedes  t  and  of  pavements, 
This  Eneas  is  ledde  after  the  meat." 

•  Great  chamber,  answering  to  our  modem  drawing-room.  t  Couches. 


The  Minstrels  of  the  Middle  Ages. 

But  the  dance  was  not  always  in  the  great  chamber.  Very  commonly  it 
took  place  in  the  hall.  The  tables  were  only  movable  boards  laid  upon 
trestles,  and  at  the  signal  from  the  master  of  the  house,  "  A  hall !  a  hall ! " 
they  were  quickly  put  aside ;  while  the  minstrels  tuned  their  instruments 
anew,  and  the  merry  folly  at  once  commenced.  In  the  illustration,  of 
early  fourteenth-century  date,  which  we  give  on  the  preceding  page,  from 
folio  174  of  the  Royal  MS.,  2  B  vii.,  the  scene  of  the  dance  is  not  indi- 
cated ;  the  minstrels  themselves  appear  to  be  joining  in  the  saltitation 
which  they  inspire. 

In   the   next   illustration,   reproduced    from   Mr.  Wright's   "  Domestic 

A  Dance  in  the  Gallery. 

Manners  of  the  English,"  we  have  a  curious  picture  of  a  dance,  possibly 
in  the  gallery,  which  occupied  the  whole  length  of  the  roof  of  most  fif- 
teenth-century houses;  it  is  from  M.  Barrois's  MS.  of  the  "Compte 
D'Artois,"  of  fifteenth-century  date.  In  all  these  instances  the  minstrels 
are  on  the  floor  with  the  dancers,  but  in  the  latter  part  of  the  Middle 
Ages  they  were  probably — especially  on  festal  occasions — placed  in  the- 
music  gallery  over  the  screens,  or  entrance-passage,  of  the  hall. 

Marriage  processions  were,  beyond  doubt,  attended  by  minstrels.     An 
illustration  of  a  band  consisting  of  tabor,  bagpipes,  regal,  and  violin,  head- 

Wedding  Music. 


ing  a  marriage  procession,  may  be  seen  in  the  Roman  d' Alexandre  (Bod- 
leian Library)  at  folio  173  :  and  at  folios  173  and  174  the  wedding  feast  is 
enlivened  by  a  more  numerous  band  of  harp,  gittern,  violin,  regal,  tabor, 
bagpipes,  hand-bells,  cymbals,  and  kettle-drums — which  are  carried  on  a 
boy's  back.* 

*  For  other  illustrations  of  musical  instruments  see  a  good  representation  of  Venus 
playing  a  rote,  with  a  plectrum  in  the  right  hand,  pressing  the  strings  with  the  left,  in 
the  Sloane  MS.  3,985,  f.  44  v.  Also  a  band,  consisting  of  violin,  organistrum  (like  the 
modem  hurdy-gurdy),  harp,  and  dulcimer,  in  the  Harl.  MS.  1,527  ;  it  represents  the 
feast  on  the  return  of  the  prodigal  son.  In  the  Arundel  MS.  83,  f.  155,  is  David  with  a 
band  of  instruments  of  early  fourteenth-century  date,  and  other  instruments  at  f.  630. 
In  the  early  fourteenth-century  MS.  28,162,  at  f.  6  v.,  David  is  tuning  his  harp  with  a 
key  ;  at  f.  10  v.  is  Dives  faring  sumptuously,  with  carver  and  cup-beare»",  and  musicians 
with  lute  and  pipe. 



^v?VVERY  nobleman  and 
gentleman  in  the 
Middle  Ages,  we 
have  seen,  had  one 
or  more  minstrels 
as  part  of  his 
household,  and 
among  their  other 
duties  they  were 
required  to  assist 
at  the  celebration 
of  divine  wor- 
ship. Allusions 
occur  perpetually 
in  the  old  ro- 
mances, showing  that  it  was  the  universal  custom  to  hear  mass  before 
dinner,  and  even-song  before  supper,  e.g.  :  "  And  so  they  went  home  and 
unarmed  them,  and  so  to  even-song  and  supper.  .  .  .  And  on  the 
morrow  they  heard  mass,  and  after  went  to  dinner,  and  to  their  counsel, 
and  made  many  arguments  what  were  best  to  do."*  "  The  Young  Chil- 
dren's Book,"  a  kind  of  mediaeval  "  Chesterfield's  Letters  to  his  Son,"  pub- 

Mallory's  "History  of  Prince  Arthur,"  vol.  i.  p.  44. 

Divine  Service.  285 

lished  by  the  Early  English  Text  Society,  from  a  MS.  of  about  1500  A.D., 
in  the  Bodleian  Library,  bids  its  pupils — 

u  Aryse  be  tyme  oute  of  thi  bedde, 
And  blysse  *  thi  brest  and  thi  forhede, 
Then  wasche  thi  handes  and  thi  face, 
Keme  thi  hede  and  ask  God  grace 
The  to  helpe  in  all  thi  workes  ; 
Thou  schalt  spede  better  what  so  thou  carpes. 
Then  go  to  the  chyrche  and  here  a  masse, 
There  aske  mersy  for  thi  trespasse. 
When  thou  hast  done  go  breke  thy  faste 
With  mete  and  drynk  a  gode  repast." 

In  great  houses  the  service  was  performed  by  the  chaplain  in  the  chapel 
of  the  hall  or  casde,  and  it  seems  probable  that  the  lord's  minstrels 
assisted  in  the  musical  part  of  the  service. 

The  organ  doubtless  continued  to  be,  as  we  have  seen  it  in  Saxon  times, 
the  most  usual  church  instrument.  Thus  the  King  of  Hungary  in  "The 
Squire  of  Low  Degree,"  tells  his  daughter  : — 

•'  Then  shal  ye  go  to  your  even  song, 
With  tenours  and  trebles  among  ; 
•  •  *  « 

Your  quere  nor  organ  song  shal  want 
With  countre  note  and  dyscant ; 
The  other  half  on  organs  playing, 
With  young  children  ful  fayn  synging." 

And  in  inventories  of  church  furniture  in  the  Middle  Ages  we  find  organs 
enumerated :  t  Not  only  the  organ,  but  all  instruments  in  common 
use,  were  probably  also  used  in  the  celebration  of  divine  worship.  We 
meet  with  repeated  instances  in  which  David  singing  the  psalms  is  accom- 
panied by  a  band  of  musicians,  as  in  the  Saxon  illumination  on  p.  272, 
and  again  in  the  initial  letter  of  this  chapter,  which  is  taken  from  a  psalter 

•  Viz.,  by  making  the  sign  of  the  cross  upon  them. 

t  Edward  VI.'  s  commissioners  return  a  pair  of  organs  in  the  church  of  St  Peter  Man- 
croft,  Norwich,  which  they  value  at  40?.,  and  in  the  church  of  St.  Peter,  Parrnentergate, 
in  the  same  city,  a  pair  of  organs  which  they  value  at^io  (which  would  be  equal  to 
about  £~o  or  ^"80  in  these  days),  and  soon  after  we  find  that  8d.  were  "  paied  to  a  car- 
penter for  makyng  of  a  plaunche  (a  platform  of  planks)  to  sette  the  organs  on." 

286  The  Minstrels  of  the  Middle  Ages. 

of  early  thirteenth-century  date  in  the  British  Museum  (Harl.  5,102).  The 
men  of  those  days  were  in  some  respects  much  more  real  and  practical, 
less  sentimental  and  transcendental,  than  we  in  religious  matters.  We 
must  have  everything  relating  to  divine  worship  of  different  form  and 
fashion  from  ordinary  domestic  appliances,  and  think  it  irreverent  to  use 
things  of  ordinary  domestic  fashion  for  religious  uses,  or  to  have  domestic 
things  in  the  shapes  of  what  we  call  religious  art.  They  had  only  one 
art,  the  best  they  knew,  for  all  purposes ;  and  they  were  content  to 
apply  the  best  of  that  to  the  service  of  God.  Thus  to  their  minds  it 
would  not  appear  at  all  unseemly  that  the  minstrels  who  had  accom- 
panied the  divine  service  in  chapel  should  walk  straight  out  of  chapel 
into  the  hall,  and  tune  their  instruments  anew  to  play  symphonies,  or 
accompany  chansons  during  dinner,  or  enliven  the  dance  in  the  great 
chamber  in  the  evening — no  more  unseemly  than  that  their  master  and 
his  family  should  dine  and  dance  as  well  as  pray.  The  chapel  royal  esta- 
blishment of  Edward  IV.  consisted  of  trumpets,  shalms,  and  pipes,  as  well 
as  voices ;  and  we  may  be  quite  sure  that  the  custom  of  the  royal  chapel 
was  imitated  by  noblemen  and  gentlemen  of  estate.  A  good  fifteenth- 
century  picture  of  the  interior  of  a  church,  showing  the  organ  in  a  gallery, 
is  engraved  in  the  "  Annales  Archseologiques,"  vol.  xii.,  p.  349.  A  very 
good  representation  of  an  organ  of  the  latter  part  of  the  sixteenth  century 
(1582)  is  in  the  fine  MS.  Plut.  3,469,  folio  27.*  An  organ  of  about  this 
date  is  still  preserved  in  that  most  interesting  old  Manor  House,  Igtham 
Mote,  in  Kent.  They  were  sometimes  placed  at  the  side  of  the  chancel, 
sometimes  in  the  rood-loft,  which  occupied  the  same  relative  position  in 
the  choir  which  the  music  gallery  did  in  the  hall. 

In  the  MSS.  we  not  unfrequently  find  the  ordinary  musical  instruments 
placed  in  the  hands  of  the  angels ;  e.g.,  in  the  early  fourteenth-century  MS. 
Royal  2  B.  vii.,  in  a  representation  of  the  creation,  with  the  morning  stars 
singing  together,  and  all  the  sons  of  God  shouting  for  joy,  an  angelic  choir 
are  making  melody  on  the  trumpet,  violin,  cittern,  shalm  (or  psaltery),  and 
harp.     There  is  another  choir  of  angels  at  p.  168  of  the  same  MS.,  two 

*  Another,  with  kettle-drums  and  trumpets,  in  the  MS.  Add.  27,675,  f.  13. 

Angel  Minstrels. 


citterns  and  two  shalms,  a  violin  and  trumpet.  Similar  representations 
occur  very  significantly  in  churches.  On  the  arch  of  the  Porta  Delia 
Gloria  of  Saragossa  Cathedral,  of  the  eleventh  century,  from  which  there  is 
a  cast  at  the  entrance  to  the  South  Kensington  Museum,  are  a  set  of  angel 
minstrels  with  musical  instruments.  In  the  bosses  of  the  ceiling  of  Tewkes- 
bury Abbey  Church  we  find  angels  playing  the  cittern  (with  a  plectrum), 
the  harp  (with  its  cover  seen  enveloping  the  lower  half  of  the  instrument)  * 

The  Morning  Stars  singing  together. 

and  the  cymbals.  A  set  of  angel  musicians  is  sculptured  on  the  rood  loft 
of  York  Minster.  In  the  triforum  of  the  nave  of  Exeter  Cathedral  is  a  pro- 
jecting gallery  for  the  minstrels,  with  sculptures  of  them  on  the  front  play- 
ing instruments.!  In  the  choir  of  Lincoln  Cathedral,  some  of  the  noble 
series  of  angels  which  fill  the  spandrels  of  its  arcades,  and  which  have 
given  to  it  the  name  of  the  Angel  Choir,  are  playing  instruments,  viz., 
the  trumpet,  double  pipe,  pipe  and  tabret,  dulcimer,  viol  and  harp.  They 
represent  the  heavenly  choir  attuning  their  praises  in  harmony  with 
the  human  choir  below :  "  Therefore  with  angels  and  archangels,  and 
with  all  the  company  of  heaven,  we  laud  and  magnify  thy  glorious  name." 
There  is  a  band  of  musicians  sculptured  on  the  grand  portal  of  the 
Cathedral  at  Rheims ;  a  sculptured  capital  from  the  church  of  St.  Georges 

*  A  harp  with  its  case  about  the  lower  part  is  in  the  Add.  MS.  18,854,  *•  91* 
t  There  are  casts  of  these  in  the  Mediaeval  Court  of  the  Crystal  Palace, 

The  Minstrets  of  the  Middle  Ages. 

de  Bocherville,  now  in  the  Museum  at  Rouen,  represents  eleven  crowned 
figures  playing  different  instruments.*  On  the  chasse  of 
St.  Ursula  at  Bruges  are  angels  playing  instruments  beau- 
tifully painted  by  Hemling.t  We  cannot  resist  the  temp- 
tation to  introduce  here  another  charming  little  drawing 
of  an  angelic  minstrel,  playing  a  psaltery,  from  the  Royal 
MS.  14  E  iii.  -  others  occur  at  folio  1  of  the  saint.  MS. 
The  band  of  village  musicians  with  flute,  violin,  clarinet,  ki 
and  bass-viol,  whom  most  of  us  have  seen  occupying  the 
singing-gallery  of  some  country  church,  are  the  representa- 
tives of  the  band  of  minstrels  who  occupied  the  rood-lofts 
in  mediaeval  times. 

Clerical  censors  of  manners  during  the  Middle  Ages 
frequently  denounce  the  dissoluteness  of  minstrels,  and 
the  minstrels  take  their  revenge  by  lampooning  the  vices 
of  the  clergy.  Like  all  sweeping  censures  of  whole  classes 
of  men,  the  accusations  on  both  sides  must  be  received 
cautiously.  However,  it  is  certain  that  the  minstrels  were 
patronised  by  the  clergy.  We  shall  presently  find  a  record 
of  the  minstrels  of  the  Bishop  of  Winchester  in  the  four- 
teenth century ;  and  the  Ordinance  of  Edward  II.,  quoted 
at  p.  296,  tells  us  that  minstrels  flocked  to  the  houses  of  prelates  as  well 
as  of  nobles  and  gentlemen.  In  the  thirteenth  century,  that  fine  sample 
of  an  English  bishop,  Grostete  of  Lincoln,  was  a  great  patron  of  minstrel 
science :  he  himself  composed  an  allegorical  romance,  the  Chasteau 
d' Amour.  Robert  de  Brunne,  in  his  English  paraphrase  of  Grostete's 
Manuel  de  Peches  (begun  in  1303),  gives  us  a  charming  anecdote  of 
the  Bishop's  love  of  minstrelsy. 

"  Y  shall  yow  telle  as  y  have  herde, 
Of  the  bysshope  seynt  Roberde, 
Hys  to-name  ys  Grostet. 
Of  Lynkolne,  so  seyth  the  gest 

An  Angel 

*  "  Annales  Archseologiques,"  vol.  vi.  p.  315. 

f  Ibid.,  vol.  ix.  p.  329. 

Bishops'  Minstrels.  289 

He  loved  moche  to  here  the  harpe, 

For  mannys  witte  hyt  makyth  sharpe. 

Next  hys  chaumber,  besyde  his  stody, 

Hys  harpers  chaumbre  was  fast  theiby. 

Many  tymes  be  nyght  and  dayys, 

He  had  solace  of  notes  and  layys. 

One  askede  hym  onys  restin  why 

He  hadde  delyte  in  mynstralsy  ? 

He  answered  hym  on  thys  manere 

Why  he  helde  the  harper  so  dere. 

The  vertu  of  the  harpe,  thurghe  skylle  and  ryght, 

Wyl  destroy  the  fendes  myght ; 

And  to  the  croys  by  gode  skylle 

Ys  the  harpe  lykened  weyle. 

Tharfor  gode  men,  ye  shul  lere 

Whan  ye  any  gleman  here, 

To  wurschep  Gode  al  youre  powere, 

As  Dauyde  seyth  yn  the  santere." 

We  know  that  the  abbots  lived  in  many  respects  as  other  great 
people  did ;  they  exercised  hospitality  to  guests  of  gentle  birth  in  their 
own  halls,  treated  them  to  the  diversions  of  hunting  and  hawking  over 
their  manors  and  in  their  forests,  and  did  not  scruple  themselves  to 
partake  in  those  amusements  ;  possibly  they  may  have  retained  minstrels 
wherewith  to  solace  their  guests  and  themselves.  It  is  quite  certain  at 
least  that  the  wandering  minstrels  were  welcome  guests  at  the  religious 
houses ;  and  Warton  records  many  instances  of  the  rewards  given  to  them 
on  those  occasions.     We  may  record  two  or  three  examples. 

The  monasteries  had  great  annual  feasts,  on  the  ecclesiastical  festiva  s, 
and  often  also  in  commemoration  of  some  saint  or  founder ;  there  was  a 
grand  service  in  church,  and  a  grand  dinner  afterwards  in  the  refectory. 
The  convent  of  St.  Swithin,  in  Winchester,  used  thus  to  keep  the  anniver- 
sary of  Alwyne  the  Bishop ;  and  in  the  year  a.d.  1374  we  find  that  six  min- 
strels, accompanied  by  four  harpers,  performed  their  minstrelsies  at  dinner, 
in  the  hall  of  the  convent,  and  during  supper  sang  the  same  gest  in  the 
great  arched  chamber  of  the  prior,  on  which  occasion  the  chamber  was 
adorned,  according  to  custom  on  great  occasions,  with  the  prior's  great 

2  go  The  Minstrels  of  the  Middle  Ages. 

dorsal  (a  hanging  for  the  wall  behind  the  table),  having  on  it  a  picture  of 
the  three  kings  of  Cologne.  These  minstrels  and  harpers  belonged  partly 
to  the  Royal  household  in  Winchester  Castle,  partly  to  the  Bishop  of  Win- 
chester. Similarly  at  the  priory  of  Bicester,  in  Oxfordshire,  in  the  year 
a.d.  1432,  the  treasurer  of  the  monastery  gave  four  shillings  to  six  minstrels 
from  Buckingham,  for  singing  in  the  refectory,  on  the  Feast  of  the 
Epiphany,  a  legend  of  the  Seven  Sleepers.  In  a.d.  1430  the  brethren  of  the 
Holie  Crosse  at  Abingdon  celebrated  their  annual  feast ;  twelve  priests 
were  hired  for  the  occasion  to  help  to  sing  the  dirge  with  becoming 
solemnity,  for  which  they  received  four  pence  each ;  and  twelve  minstrels, 
some  of  whom  came  from  the  neighbouring  town  of  Maidenhead,  were 
rewarded  with  two  shillings  and  four  pence  each,  besides  their  share  of  the 
feast  and  food  for  their  horses.  At  Mantoke  Priory,  near  Coventry,  there 
was  a  yearly  obit ;  and  in  the  year  a.d.  1441,  we  find  that  eight  priests  were 
hired  from  Coventry  to  assist  in  the  service,  and  the  six  minstrels  of  their 
neighbour,  Lord  Clinton,  of  Mantoke  Castle,  were  engaged  to  sing,  harp, 
and  play,  in  the  hall  of  the  monastery,  at  the  grand  refection  allowed  to  the 
monks  on  the  occasion  of  that  anniversary.  The  minstrels  amused  the 
monks  and  their  guests  during  dinner,  and  then  dined  themselves  in  the 
painted  chamber  {camera  pictd)  of  the  monastery  with  the  sub-prior,  on 
which  occasion  the  chamberlain  furnished  eight  massy  tapers  of  wax  to 
light  their  table. 

These  are  instances  of  minstrels  formally  invited  by  abbots  and  convents 
to  take  part  in  certain  great  festivities  ;  but  there  are  proofs  that  the  wan- 
dering minstrel,  who,  like  all  other  classes  of  society,  would  find  hospi- 
tality in  the  guest-house  of  the  monastery,  was  also  welcomed  for  his 
minstrel  skill,  and  rewarded  for  it  with  guerdon  of  money,  besides  his 
food  and  lodging.  Warton  gives  instances  of  entries  in  monastic  accounts 
for  disbursements  on  such  occasions  ;  and  there  is  an  anecdote  quoted  by 
Percy  of  some  dissolute  monks  who  one  evening  admitted  two  poor  priests 
whom  they  took  to  be  minstrels,  and  ill-treated  and  turned  them  out  again 
when  they  were  disappointed  of  their  anticipated  gratification. 

On  the  next  page  is  a  curious  illumination  from  the  Royal  MS.  2  B  vii.f 
representing  a  friar  and  a  nun  themselves  making  minstrelsy. 

Military  Music. 


At  tournaments  the  scene  was  enlivened  by  the  strains  of  minstrels, 
and  horses  and  men  inspirited  to  the  charge  by  the  loud  fanfare  of  their 

And  again : — 

Nun  and  Friar  with  Musical  Instruments. 

instruments.    Thus  in  "  The  Knight's  Tale,"  at  the  tournament  of  Palamon 
and  Arcite,  as  the  king  and  his  company  rode  to  the  lists : — 

"  Up  gon  the  trumpets  and  the  melodie, 
And  to  the  listes  ride  the  companie." 

"  Then  were  the  gates  shut,  and  cried  was  loude 
Now  do  your  devoir  younge  knightes  proud. 
The  heralds  left  their  pricking  up  and  down, 
Now  ringen  trumpets  loud  and  clarioun. 
There  is  no  more  to  say,  but  East  and  "West 
In  go  the  speares  sadly  in  the  rest ; 
In  goeth  the  sharpe  spur  into  the  side  ; 
There  see  men  who  can  just  and  who  can  ride. 
Men  shiveren  shaftfe  upon  shieldes  thick, 
He  feeleth  thro  the  hearte-spoon  the  prick." 

In  actual  war  only  the  trumpet  and  horn  and  tabor  seem  to  have  been 

used.     In  "  The  Romance  of  Merlin  "  we  read  of 

"  Tram  pes  beting,  tambours  classing  " 

in  the  midst  of  a  battle ;  and  again,  in  Chaucer's  "  Knight's  Tale  " — 

"Pipes,  trumpets,  nakeres,*  and  clariouns 
That  in  the  battle  blowen  bloody  sounds  ;" 

•  Kettle-drams. 

292  The  Minstrels  of  the  Middle  Ages. 

and  again,  on  another  occasion — 

"  The  trumping  and  the  tabouring, 
Did  together  the  knights  fling." 

There  are  several  instances  in  the  Royal  MS.,  2  B  vii.,  in  which 
trumpeters  are  sounding  their  instruments  in  the  rear  of  a  company  of 
charging  chevaliers. 

Again,  when  a  country  knight  and  his  neighbour  wished  to  keep 
their  spears  in  practice  against  the  next  tournament,  or  when  a  couple 
of  errant  knights  happened  to  meet  at  a  manor-house,  the  lists  were 
rudely  staked  out  in  the  base-court  of  the  castle,  or  in  the  meadow 
under  the  castle-walls ;  and,  while  the  ladies  looked  on  and  waved 
their  scarfs  from  the  windows  or  the  battlements,  and  the  vassals  flocked 
round  the  ropes,  the  minstrels  gave  animation  to  the  scene.  In  the  illus- 
tration on  p.  414  from  the  title-page  of  the  Royal  MS.,  14  E  iii.,  a  fine 
volume  of  romances  of  early  fourteenth-century  date,  we  are  made  spec- 
tators of  a  scene  of  the  kind ;  the  herald  is  arranging  the  preliminaries 
between  the  two  knights  who  are  about  to  joust,  while  a  band  of  minstrels 
inspire  them  with  their  strains. 

Not  only  at  these  stated  periods,  but  at  all  times,  the  minstrels  were 
liable  to  be  called  upon  to  enliven  the  tedium  of  their  lord  or  lady  with 
music  and  song  j  the  King  of  Hungary  (in  "  The  Squire  of  Low  Degree  "), 
trying  to  comfort  his  daughter  for  the  loss  of  her  lowly  lover  by  the 
promise  of  all  kinds  of  pleasures,  says  that  in  the  morning — 

"  Ye  shall  have  harpe,  sautry,  and  songe, 
And  other  myrthes  you  among." 

And  again  a  little  further  on,  after  dinner — 

"  When  you  come  home  your  menie  amorge, 
Ye  shall  have  revell,  daunces,  and  songe  ; 
Lytle  children,  great  and  smale, 
Shall  syng  as  doth  the  nightingale." 

And  yet  again,  when  she  is  gone  to  bed — 

'*  And  yf  ye  no  rest  can  take, 
All  night  mynstrels  for  you  shall  wake." 

Errant  Minstrels,  293 

Doubtless  many  of  the  long  winter  evenings,  when  the  whole  househoid 
was  assembled  round  the  blazing  wood  fire  in  the  middle  of  the  hall,  would 
be  passed  in  listening  to  those  interminable  tales  of  chivalry  which  my 
lord's  chief  harper  would  chant  to  his  harp,  while  his  fellows  would  play  a 
symphony  between  the  "  fyttes."  Of  other  occasions  on  which  the  min- 
strels would  have  appropriate  services  to  render,  an  entry  in  the  House- 
hold Book  of  the  Percy  family  in  a.d.  15 12  gives  us  an  indication :  There 
were  three  of  them  at  their  castle  in  the  north,  a  tabret,  a  lute,  and  a 
rebec ;  and  we  find  that  they  had  a  new-year's  gift,  "  xxs.  for  playing  at  my 
lordes  chamber  doure  on  new  yeares  day  in  the  momynge ;  and  for  play- 
inng  at  my  lordes  sone  and  heire's  chamber  doure,  the  lord  Percy,  iir. ; 
and  tor  playing  at  the  chamber  dours  of  my  lord's  yonger  sonnes,  my 
yonge  masters,  after  viii.  the  piece  for  every  of  them." 

But  besides  the  official  minstrels  of  kings,  nobles,  and  gentlemen, 
bishops,  and  abbots,  and  corporate  towns,  there  were  a  great  number  of 
"  minstrels  unattached,"  and  of  various  grades  of  society,  who  roamed 
abroad  singly  or  in  company,  from  town  to  town,  from  court  to  camp,  from 
castle  to  monastery,  flocking  in  great  numbers  to  tournaments  and  festivals 
and  fairs,  and  welcomed  everywhere. 

The  summer-time  was  especially  the  season  for  the  wanderings  of  these 
children  of  song,*  as  it  was  of  the  knight-errant  f  and  of  the  pilgrim  J  also. 
Xo  wonder  that  the  works  of  the  minstrels  abound  as  they  do  with  charming 
outbursts  of  song  on  the  return  of  the  spring  and  summer,  and  the  delights 
which  they  bring.  All  winter  long  the  minstrel  had  lain  in  some  town, 
chafing  at  its  miry  and  unsavoury  streets,  and  its  churlish,  money-getting 
citizens ;  or  in  some  hospitable  castle  or  manor-house,  perhaps,  listening 
to  the  wind  roaring  through  the  broad  forests,  and  howling  among  the 

*  In  the  account  of  the  minstrel  at  Kenilworth,  subsequently  given,  he  is  described  as 
1  a  squiere  minstrel  of  Middlesex,  that  travelled  the  country  this  summer  time." 
t  "  Miri  it  is  in  somer's  tide 
Swaines  gin  on  justing  ride." 
J  "  Whanne  that  April  with  his  shoures  sote,"  &c 
"  Than  longen  folk  to  gon  on  pilgrimages." 

294  The  Minstrels  of  the  Middle  Ages. 

turrets  overhead,  until  he  pined  for  freedom  and  green  fields ;  his  host, 

perchance,  grown  tired  of  his  ditties,  and  his  only  occupation  to  con  new 

ones ;  this,  from  the  "  Percy  Reliques,"  sounds  like  a  verse  composed  at 

such  a  time  : — 

u  In  time  of  winter  alange*  it  is  I 
The  foules  lesenf  her  bliss ! 
The  leves  fallen  off  the  tree ; 
Rain  alangeth  %  the  countree." 

No  wonder  they  welcomed  the  return  of  the  bright,  warm  days,  when  they 
could  resume  their  gay,  adventurous,  open-air  life,  in  the  fresh,  flowery 
meadows,  and  the  wide,  green  forest  glades  ;  roaming  to  town  and  village, 
castle  and  monastery,  feast  and  tournament ;  alone,  or  in  company  with  a 
band  of  brother  minstrels  ;  meeting  by  the  way  with  gay  knights  adven- 
turous, or  pilgrims  not  less  gay — if  they  were  like  those  of  Chaucer's 
company;  welcomed  everywhere  by  priest  and  abbot,  lord  and  loon. 
These  are  the  sort  of  strains  which  they  carolled  as  they  rested  under  the 
white  hawthorn,  and  carelessly  tinkled  an  accompaniment  on  their  harps  : — 

'  Merry  is  th'  ente  of  May  ; 
The  fowles  maketh  merry  play  ; 
The  time  is  hot,  and  long  the  day. 
The  joyful  nightingale  singeth, 
In  the  grene  mede  flowers  springeth. 
*  *  ♦  » 

"  Merry  it  is  in  somer's  tide  ; 
Fowles  sing  in  forest  wide ; 
Swaines  gin  on  justing  ride, 
Maidens  liffen  hem  in  pride." 

The  minstrels  were  often  men  of  position  and  wealth.  Rayer,  or 
Raherus,  the  first  of  the  king's  minstrels  whom  we  meet  with  after  the 
Conquest,  founded  the  Priory  and  Hospital  of  St.  Bartholomew,  in 
Smithfield,  London,  in  the  third  year  of  Henry  I.,  a.d.  1102,  and  became 
the  first  prior  of  his  own  foundation.  He  was  not  the  only  minstrel  who 
turned  religious.  Foulquet  de  Marseille,  first  a  merchant,  then  a  minstrel 
of  note — some  of  his  songs  have  descended  to  these  days — at  length  turned 
monk,  and  was  made  abbot  of  Tournet,  and  at  length  Archbishop  of 

•  Tedious,  irksome.  t  Lose  their.  %  Renders  tedious. 

Errant  Minstrels.  295 

Toulouse,  and  is  known  in  history  as  the  persecutor  of  the  Albigenses  :  he 
died  in  1 23 1  a.d.  It  seems  to  have  been  no  unusual  thing  for  men  of  family 
to  take  up  the  wandering,  adventurous  life  of  the  minstrel,  much  as  others 
of  the  same  class  took  up  the  part  of  knight  adventurous ;  they  frequently 
travelled  on  horseback,  with  a  servant  to  carry  their  harp ;  flocking  to 
courts  and  tournaments,  where  the  graceful  and  accomplished  singer  of 
chivalrous  deeds  was  perhaps  more  caressed  than  the  large-limbed  warrior 
who  achieved  them ;  and  obtained  large  rewards,  instead  of  huge  blows,  for 
his  guerdon. 

There  are  some  curious  anecdotes  showing  the  kind  of  people  who 
became  minstrels,  their  wandering  habits,  their  facility  of  access  to  all 
companies  and  places,  and  the  uses  which  were  sometimes  made  of  their  pri- 
vileges. All  our  readers  will  remember  how  Blondel  de  Nesle,  the  minstrel 
of  Richard  Cceur  de  Lion,  wandered  over  Europe  in  search  of  his  master. 
There  is  a  less  known  instance  of  a  similar  kind  and  of  the  same  period. 
Ela,  the  heiress  of  D'Evereux,  Earl  of  Salisbury,  had  been  carried  abroad 
and  secreted  by  her  French  relations  in  Normandy.  To  discover  the 
place  of  her  concealment,  a  knight  of  the  Talbot  family  spent  two  years  in 
exploring  that  province;  at  first  under  the  disguise  of  a  pilgrim;  then,  having 
found  where  she  was  confined,  in  order  to  gain  admittance,  he  assumed 
the  dress  and  character  of  a  harper ;  and  being  a  jocose  person,  exceed- 
ingly skilled  in  the  Gests  of  the  ancients,  he  was  gladly  received  into  the 
family.  He  succeeded  in  carrying  off  the  lady,  whom  he  restored  to  her 
liege  lord  the  king,  who  bestowed  her  in  marriage,  not  upon  the  adven- 
turous knight-minstrel,  as  ought  to  have  been  the  ending  of  so  pretty  a 
novelet,  but  upon  his  own  natural  brother,  William  Longespe'e,  to  whom 
she  brought  her  earldom  of  Salisbury  in  dower. 

Many  similar  instances,  not  less  valuable  evidences  of  the  manners  of 
the  times  because  they  are  fiction,  might  be  selected  from  the  romances  of 
the  Middle  Ages ;  proving  that  it  was  not  unusual  for  men  of  birth  and 
station*  to  assume,  for  a  longer  or  shorter  time,  the  character  and  life  of 
the  wandering  minstrel. 

*  Fontenelle  ("Histoire  du  Theatre,"  quoted  by  Percy)  tells  us  that  in  France,  men, 
who  by  the  division  of  the  family  property  had  only  the  half  or  the  fourth  part  of  an  old 

296  The  Minstrels  of  the  Middle  Ages. 

But  besides  these  gentle  minstrels,  there  were  a  multitude  of  others  of 
the  lower  classes  of  society,  professors  of  the  joyous  science ;  descending 
through  all  grades  of  musical  skill,  and  of  respectability  of  character.  We 
find  regulations  from  time  to  time  intended  to  check  their  irregularities.  In 
13 1 5  King  Edward  II.  issued  an  ordinance  addressed  to  sheriffs,  &c,  as  fol- 
lows :  "  Forasmuch  as  .  .  .  .  many  idle  persons  under  colour  of  mynstrelsie, 
and  going  in  messages*  and  other  faigned  busines,  have  been  and  yet  be 
receaved  in  other  men's  houses  to  meate  and  drynke,  and  be  not  therwith 
contented  yf  they  be  not  largely  considered  with  gyftes  of  the  Lordes  of 
the  Houses,  &c We  wyllyng  to  restrayne  such  outrageous  enter- 
prises and  idlenes,  &c,  have  ordeyned that  to  the  houses  of 

Prelates,  Earls,  and  Barons,  none  resort  to  meate  and  drynke  unless  he  be 
a  mynstrell,  and  of  these  mynstrels  that  there  come  none  except  it  be  three 
or  four  mynstrels  of  honour  at  most  in  one  day  unless  he  be  desired  of  the 
Lorde  of  the  House.  And  to  the  houses  of  meaner  men,  that  none  come 
unlesse  he  be  desired ;  and  that  such  as  shall  come  so  holde  themselves 
contented  with  meate  and  drynke,  and  with  such  curtesie  as  the  Master  of 
the  House  wyl  shewe  unto  them  of  his  owne  good  wyll,  without  their 
askyng  of  any  thyng.  And  yf  any  one  do  against  this  ordinaunce  at  the 
first  tyme  he  to  lose  his  minstrelsie,  and  at  the  second  tyme  to  forsweare 
his  craft,  and  never  to  be  received  for  a  minstrell  in  any  house."  This 
curious  ordinance  gives  additional  proof  of  several  facts  which  we  have 
before  noted,  viz.,  that  minstrels  were  well  received  everywhere,  and  had 
even  become  exacting  in  their  expectations ;  that  they  used  to  wander 
about  in  bands  ;  and  the  penalties  seem  to  indicate  that  the  minstrels  were 
already  incorporated  in  a  guild.     The  first  positive  evidence  of  such  a 

seignorial  castle,  sometimes  went  rhyming   about  the  world,  and  returned  to  acquire 
the  remainder  of  their  ancestral  castle. 

*  In  the  MS.  illuminations  of  the  thirteenth  and  fourteenth  centuries,  the  messenger 
is  denoted  by  peculiarities  of  equipment.  He  generally  bears  a  spear,  and  has  a  very 
small,  round  target  (or,  perhaps,  a  badge  of  his  lord's  arms)  at  his  girdle — e.g.,  in  the 
MS.  Add.  11,639  of  the  close  of  the  thirteenth  century,  folio  203  v.  In  the  fifteenth 
century  we  see  messengers  carrying  letters  openly,  fastened  in  the  cleft  of  a  split  wand, 
in  the  MS.  of  about  the  same  date,  Harl.  1,527,  folio  1,080,  and  in  the  fourteenth 
century  MS.  Add.  10,293,  folio  is  ;  and  in  Hans  Burgmaier's  Der  Weise  Konige. 

Organization  of  Minstrels.  297 

ild  is  in  the  charter  (already  alluded  to)  of  9th  King  Edward  IV, 
a.d.  1469,  in  which  he  grants  to  Walter  Haliday,  Marshall,  and  seven 
others,  his  own  minstrels,  a  charter  by  which  he  restores  a  Fraternity 
or  perpetual  Guild  (such  as  he  understands  the  brothers  and  sisters  of 
the  Fraternity  of  Minstrels  had  in  times  past),  to  be  governed  by  a  mar- 
shall,  appointed  for  life,  and  by  two  wardens,  to  be  chosen  annually, 
who  are  empowered  to  admit  brothers  and  sisters  into  the  guild,  and 
are  authorised  to  examine  the  pretensions  of  all  such  as  affect  to  exercise 
the  minstrel  profession  ;  and  to  regulate,  govern,  and  punish  them  through- 
out the  realm — those  of  Chester  excepted.  It  seems  probable  that  the 
King's  Minstrel,  or  the  King  of  the  Minstrels,  had  long  previously  pos- 
sessed an  authority  of  this  kind  over  all  the  members  of  the  profession,  and 
that  the  organization  very  much  resembled  that  of  the  heralds.  The  two 
are  mentioned  together  in  the  Statute  of  Arms  for  Tournaments,  passed  in 
the  reign  of  Edward  I.,  a.d.  1295.  "E  qe  nul  Roy  de  Harraunz  ne 
Menestrals*  portent  privez  armez  :"  that  no  King  of  the  Heralds  or  of  the 
Minstrels  shall  carry  secret  weapons.  That  the  minstrels  attended  all 
tournaments  we  have  already  mentioned.  The  heralds  and  minstrels  are 
often  coupled  in  the  same  sentence;  thus  Froissart  tells  us  that  at  a 
Christmas  entertainment  given  by  the  Earl  of  Foix,  there  were  many 
minstrels,  as  well  his  own  as  strangers,  "  and  the  Earl  gave  to  Heraulds 
and  Minstrelles  the  sum  of  fyve  hundred  frankes ;  and  gave  to  the  Duke 
of  Tourayne's  mynstreles  gowns  of  cloth  of  gold  furred  with  ermine,  valued 
at  200  frankes."  \ 

*  It  is  right  to  state  that  one  MS.  of  this  statute  gives  Mareschans  instead  of  Menes- 
trals ;  but  the  reading  in  the  text  is  that  preferred  by  the  Record  Commission,  who  have 
published  the  whole  of  the  interesting  document. 

t  In  the  romance  of  Richard  Cceur  de  Lion  we  read  that,  after  the  capture  of  Acre, 
he  distributed  among  the  "  heralds,  disours,  tabourers,  and  trompours,"  who  accompanied 
him,  the  greater  part  of  the  money,  jewels,  horses,  and  fine  robes  which  had  fallen  to  his 
share.  "We  have  many  accounts  o  the  lavish  generosity  with  which  chivalrous  lords 
propitiated  the  favourable  report  of  the  heralds  and  minstrels,  whose  good  report  was 



T  is  not  unlikely  that  the  principal  minstrel  of  every  great  noble 
exercised  some  kind  of  authority  over  all  minstrels  within  his 
lord's  jurisdiction.  There  are  several  famous  instances  of  some- 
thing of  this  kind  on  record.  The  earliest  is  that  of  the  authority  granted 
by  Ranulph,  Earl  of  Chester,  to  the  Duttons  over  all  minstrels  of  his 
jurisdiction ;  for  the  romantic  origin  of  the  grant  the  curious  reader  may 
see  the  Introductory  Essay  to  Percy's  "  Reliques,"  or  the  original  autho- 
rities in  Dugdale's  "  Monasticon,"  and  D.  Powel's  "  History  of  Cambria." 

The  Beverley  Minstrels. 

The  ceremonies  attending  the  exercise  of  this  authority  are  thus  described 
by  Dugdale,  as  handed  down  to  his  time : — viz.,  "  That  at  Midsummer 
fair  there,  all  the  minstrels  of  that  countrey  resorting  to  Chester,  do  attend 
the  heir  of  Dutton  from  his  lodging  to  St.  John's  Church  (he  being  then 

The  Great  Guilds.  299 

accompanied  by  many  gentlemen  of  the  countrey),  one  of  the  minstrels 
walking  before  him  in  a  surcoat  of  his  arms,  depicted  on  taffeta ;  the  rest 
of  his  fellows  proceeding  two  and  two,  and  playing  on  their  several  sorts 
of  musical  instruments.  And  after  divine  service  ended,  gave  the  like 
attendance  on  him  back  to  his  lodging ;  where  a  court  being  kept  by  his 
(Mr.  Dutton's)  steward,  and  all  the  minstrels  formally  called,  certain  orders 
and  laws  are  usually  made  for  the  better  government  of  that  society,  with 
penalties  on  those  that  transgress."  This  court,  we  have  seen,  was 
exempted  from  the  jurisdiction  of  the  King  of  the  Minstrels  by  Edward  IV., 
as  it  was  also  from  the  operation  of  all  Acts  of  Parliament  on  the  subject 
down  to  so  late  a  period  as  the  seventeenth  year  of  George  II.,  the  last 
of  them.  In  the  fourth  year  of  King  Richard  II.,  John*  of  Gaunt  created 
a  court  of  minstrels  at  Tutbury,  in  Staffordshire,  similar  to  that  at  Chester ; 
in  the  charter  (which  is  quoted  in  Dr.  Plotfs  "  History  of  Staffordshire," 
p.  436)  he  gives  them  a  King  of  the  Minstrels  and  four  officers,  with  a 
legal  authority  over  the  men  of  their  craft  in  the  five  adjoining  counties  of 
Stafford,  Derby,  Notts,  Leicester,  and  Warwick.  The  form  of  election,  as 
it  existed  at  a  comparatively  late  period,  is  fully  detailed  by  Dr.  Plott. 

Another  of  these  guilds  was  the  ancient  company  or  fraternity  of  min- 
strels in  Beverley,  of  which  an  account  is  given  in  Poulson's  "  Beverlac  " 
(p.  302).  When  the  fraternity  originated  we  do  not  know ;  but  they  were 
of  some  consideration  and  wealth  in  the  reign  of  Henry  VI.,  when  the 
Church  of  St  Mary's,  Beverley,  was  built ;  for  they  gave  a  pillar  to  it,  on 
the  capital  of  which  a  band  of  minstrels  are  sculptured,  of  whom  we  here 
re-produce  a  drawing  from  Carter's  "  Ancient  Painting  and  Sculpture,"  to 
which  we  shall  have  presently  to  ask  the  reader's  further  attention.  The 
oldest  existing  document  of  the  fraternity  is  a  copy  of  laws  of  the  time  of 
Philip  and  Mary.  They  are  similar  to  those  by  which  all  trade  guilds 
were  governed  :  their  officers  were  an  alderman  and  two  stewards  or  sears 

*  May  we  infer  from  the  exemption  of  the  jurisdiction  of  the  Duttons,  and  not  of 
that  of  the  court  of  Tutbury  and  the  guild  of  Beverley,  that  the  jurisdiction  of  the  King 
of  the  Minstrels  over  the  whole  realm  was  established  after  the  former,  and  before  the 
latter  ?  The  French  minstrels  were  incorporated  by  charter,  and  had  a  king  in  the  year 
1330,  forty-seven  years  before  Tutbury.  In  the  ordonnance  of  Edward  II.,  1315,  there  is 
no  allusion  to  such  a  general  jurisdiction. 

300  The  Minstrels  of  the  Middle  Ages. 

(i.e.  seers,  searchers) ;  the  only  items  in  their  laws  which  throw  much 
additional  light  upon  our  subject  are  the  one  already  partly  quoted,  that 
they  should  not  take  "  any  new  brother  except  he  be  mynstrell  to  some 
man  of  honour  or  worship  (proving  that  men  of  honour  and  worship  still 
had  minstrels),  or  waite  *  of  some  towne  corporate  or  other  ancient  town, 
or  else  of  such  honestye  and  conyng  as  shall  be  thought  laudable  and 
pleasant  to  the  hearers  there."     And  again,  "  no  myler,  shepherd,  or  of 

Goatherds  playing  Musical  Instruments. 

other  occupation,  or  husbandman,  or  husbandman  servant,  playing  upon 
pype  or  other  instrument,  shall  sue  any  wedding,  or  other  thing  that 
pertaineth  to  the  said  science,  except  in  his  own  parish."     We  may  here 

*  One  of  the  minstrels  of  King  Edward  the  Fourth's  household  (there  were  thirteen 
others)  was  called  the  wayte ;  it  was  his  duty  to  "  pipe  watch."     In  the  romance  of 
"  Richard  Cceur  de  Lion,"  when  Richard,  with  his  fleet,  has  come  silently  in  the  night 
under  the  walls  of  Jaffa,  which  was  besieged  on  the  land  side  by  the  Saracen  army  :-- 
"  They  looked  up  to  the  castel, 
They  heard  no  pipe,  ne  flagel,1 
They  drew  em  nigh  to  land, 
If  they  mighten  understand, 
And  they  could  ne  nought  espie, 
Ne  by  no  voice  of  minstralcie, 
That  quick  man  in  the  castle  were." 
And  so  they  continued  in  uncertainty  until  the  spring  of  the  day,  then 
"  A  wait  there  came,  in  a  kernel,2 
And  piped  a  nott  in  a  flagel." 
And  when  he  recognised  King  Richard's  galleys, 

"  Then  a  merrier  note  he  blew, 
And  piped,  •  Seigneurs  or  sus  1  or  sos ! 
King  Richard  is  comen  to  us  !  '" 
'  Flageolet.  *  Battlement. 

Shepherds'  Pipes. 


digress  for  a  moment  to  say  that  the  shepherds,  throughout  the  Middle 
Ages,  seem  to  have  been  as  musical  as  the  swains  of  Theocritus  or  Virgil ; 
in  the  MS.  illuminations  we  constantly  find  them  represented  playing  upon 
instruments ;  we  give  a  couple  of  goatherds  from  the  MS.  Royal  2  B  vii. 
folio  83,  of  early  fourteenth-century  date. 

Besides  the  pipe  and  horn,  the  bagpipe  was 
also  a  rustic  instrument.  There  is  a  shepherd  play- 
ing upon  one  in  folio  1 1 2  of  the  same  MS. ;  and 
again,  in  the  early  fourteenth-century  MS.  Royal 
2  B  vi.,  on  the  reverse  of  folio  8,  is  a  group  of 
shepherds,  one  of  whom  plays  a  small  pipe,  and 
another  the  bagpipes.  Chaucer  (3rd  Book  of 
the  "  House  of  Fame  ")  mentions — 

"  Pipes  made  of  greene  come, 
As  have  these  little  herd  gromes, 
That  keepen  beastes  in  the  bromes." 

Shepherd  with  Bagpipes. 

It  is  curious  to  find  that  even  at  so  late  a  period  as  the  time  of  Queen  Mary, 
the  shepherds  still  officiated  at  weddings  and  other  merrymakings  in  theii 
villages,  so  as  to  excite  the  jealousy  of  the  professors  of  the  joyous  science. 

Rustic  Merry-making. 
The  accompanying  wood-cut,  from   a   MS.   in   the   French    National 
library,  may  represent  such  a  rustic  merry-making 

302  The  Minstrels  of  the  Middle  Ages. 

One  might,  perhaps,  have  been  disposed  to  think  that  the  good  minstrels 
of  Beverley  were  only  endeavouring  to  revive  usages  which  had  fallen  into 
desuetude ;  but  we  find  that  in  the  time  of  Elizabeth  the  profession  of 
minstrelsy  was  sufficiently  universal  to  call  for  the  inquiry,  in  the  Injunctions 
of  1559,  "Whether  any  minstrells,  or  any  other  persons,  do  use  to  sing 
any  songs  or  ditties  that  be  vile  or  unclean." 

Ben  Jonson  gives  us  numerous  allusions  to  them :  e.g.,  in  the  "  Tale  of 
a  Tub,"  old  Turve  talks  of  "  old  Father  Rosin,  the  chief  minstrel  here — 
chief  minstrel,  too,  of  Highgate ;  she  has  hired  him,  and  all  his  two  boys, 
for  a  day  and  a  half."  They  were  to  be  dressed  in  bays,  rosemary,  and 
ribands,  to  precede  the  bridal  party  across  the  fields  to  church  and  back, 
and  to  play  at  dinner.     And  so  in  "  Epiccene,"  act  iii.  sc.  1 : — 

"  Well,  there  be  guests  to  meat  now  ;  how  shall  we  do  for  music  ?  "  [for  Morose's 

Clerimont. — The  smell  of  the  venison  going  thro'  the  street  will  invite  one  noise  of 
fiddlers  or  other. 

Dauphine. — I  would  it  would  call  the  trumpeters  hither ! 

Clerimont. — Faith,  there  is  hope  :  they  have  intelligence  of  all  feasts.  There's  a  good 
correspondence  betwixt  them  and  the  London  cooks  :  'tis  twenty  to  one  but  we  have 

And  Dryden,  so  late  as  the  time  of  William  III.,  speaks  of  them — 

"  These  fellows 
Were  once  the  minstrels  of  a  country  show, 
Followed  the  prizes  through  each  paltry  town, 
By  trumpet  cheeks  and  bloated  faces  known." 

There  were  also  female  minstrels  throughout  the  Middle  Ages  ;  but,  as 
might  be  anticipated  from  their  irregular  wandering  life,  they  bore  an 
indifferent  reputation.  The  romance  of  "  Richard  Cceur  de  Lion  "  says 
that  it  was  a  female  minstrel,  and,  still  worse,  an  Englishwoman,  who  re- 
cognised and  betrayed  the  knight-errant  king  and  his  companions,  on  their 
return  from  the  Holy  Land,  to  his  enemy,  the  "  King  of  Almain."  The 
passage  is  worth  quoting,  as  it  illustrates  several  of  the  traits  of  minstrel 
habits  which  we  have  already  recorded.  After  Richard  and  his  com- 
panions had  dined  on  a  goose,  which  they  cooked  for  themselves  at  a 
tavern — 

Female  Minstrels. 


"  When  they  had  drunken  well  afin, 
A  minstralle  com  therin, 
A^id  said  '  Gentlemen,  wittily, 
Will  ye  have  any  minstrelsey  ? ' 
Richard  bade  that  she  should  go. 
That  turned  him  to  mickle  woe ! 
The  minstralle  took  in  mind,* 
And  saith,  ■  Ye  are  men  unkind  ; 
And  if  I  may,  ye  shall  for-think  f 
Ye  gave  neither  meat  nor  drink. 
For  gentlemen  should  bede  J 
To  minstrels  that  abouten  yede  § 
Of  their  meat,  wine,  and  ale  ; 
For  los  ||  rises  of  minstrale.' 
She  was  English,  and  well  true 
By  speech,  and  sight,  and  hide,  and  hue. 


Stow  tells  that  in  13 16,  while  Edward  II.  was  solemnizing  his  Feast 
of  Pentecost  in  his  hall  at  Westminster,  sitting  royally  at  table,  with  his 
peers  about  him,  there  entered  a  woman  adorned  like  a  minstrel,  sitting  on 
a  great  horse,  trapped  as  minstrels  then  used,  who  rode  round  about  the 
tables  showing  her  pastime.  The  reader  will  remember  the  use  which  Sir 
E.  B.  Lytton  has  made  of  a  troop  of  tymbesteres 
in  "The  Last  of  the  Barons,"  bringing  them  in 
at  the  epochs  of  his  tale  with  all  the  dramatic 
effect  of  the  Greek  chorus  :  the  description  which  he 
gives  of  their  habits  is  too  sadly  truthful.  The 
daughter  of  Herodias  dancing  before  Herod  is  scorn- 
fully represented  by  the  mediaeval  artists  as  a  female 
minstrel  performing  the  tumbling  tricks  which  were 
part  of  their  craft.  We  give  a  representation  of  a 
female  minstrel  playing  the  tambourine  from  the  MS. 
Royal,  2  B  vii.  folio  182. 

A  question  of  considerable  interest  to  artists,  no 
less  than  to  antiquaries,  is  whether  the  minstrels  were  or  not  distinguished 

Female  Minstrel. 

•  Was  offended. 


%  Give. 

§  Travel. 

U  Praise 

304  The  Minstrels  of  the  Middle  Ages. 

by  any  peculiar  costume  or  habit.  Bishop  Percy*  and  his  followers  say  that 
they  were,  and  the  assertion  is  grounded  on  the  following  evidences  : 
Baldulph,  the  Saxon,  in  the  anecdote  already  related,  when  assuming  the 
disguise  of  a  minstrel,  is  described  as  shaving  his  head  and  beard,  and 
dressing  himself  in  the  habit  of  that  profession.  Alfred  and  Aulaff  were 
known  at  once  to  be  minstrels.  The  two  poor  priests  who  were  turned  out 
of  the  monastery  by  the  dissolute  monks  were  at  first  mistaken  for 
minstrels.  The  woman  who  entered  Westminster  Hall  at  King  Edward 
the  Second's  Pentecost  feast  was  adorned  like  a  minstrel,  sitting  on  a  great 
horse,  trapped  as  minstrels  then  used. 

The  Knight  of  La  Tour-Landry  (chap,  xvii.)  tells  a  story  which  shows 
that  the  costume  of  minstrels  was  often  conspicuous  for  richness  and 
fashion :  "  As  y  have  herde  telle,  Sir  Pi  ere  de  Luge  was  atte  the  feste  where 
as  were  gret  foyson  of  lordes,  ladies,  knightes,  and  squieres,  and  gentil- 
women,  and  so  there  came  in  a  yonge  squier  before  hem  that  was  sette  atte 
dyner  and  salued  the  companie,  and  he  was  clothed  in  a  cote-hardy  f 
upon  the  guyse  of  Almayne,  and  in  this  wise  he  come  further  before  the 
lordes  and  ladies,  and  made  hem  goodly  reverence.  And  so  the  said  Sir 
Piere  called  this  yonge  squier  with  his  voys  before  alle  the  statis,  and  saide 
unto  hym  and  axed  hym,  where  was  his  fedylle  or  hys  ribible,  or  suche  an 
instrument  as  longethe  unto  a  mynstralle.  '  Syr,'  saide  the  squier,  '  I  canne 
not  medille  me  of  such  thinge,  it  is  not  my  craft  nor  science.'  '  Sir,'  saide 
the  knight,  '  I  canne  not  trowe  that  ye  saye,  for  ye  be  counterfait  in  youre 
araye  and  lyke  unto  a  mynstralle ;  for  I  have  knowe  herebefore  alle  youre 
aunse tours,  and  the  knightes  and  squiers  of  youre  kin,  which  were  alle  worth  ie 
men  ;  but  I  sawe  never  none  of  hem  that  were  [wore]  counterfait,  nor  that 
clothed  hem  in  such  array.'  And  thanne  the  yonge  squier  answered  the 
knight  and  saide,  'Sir,  by  as  moche  as  it  mislykithe  you  it  shalle  be 
amended,'  and  cleped  a  pursevant  and  gave  him  the  cote-hardy.  And  he 
abled  hym  selff  in  an  other  gowne,  and  come  agen  into  the  halle,  and 
thanne  the  anncyen  knight  saide  openly,  '  This  yonge  squier  shalle  have 

*  Introduction  to  his  "  Reliques  of  Early  English  Poetry." 

f  The  close-fitting  outer  garment  worn  in  the  fourteenth  century,  shown  in  the 
engravings  on  p.  350. 

The  Kenilworth  Minstrel,  305 

worshipe  for  he  hath  trowed  and  do  bi  the  counsaile  of  the  elder  with- 
oute  ani  contraryenge.'" 

In  the  time  of  Henry  VII.  we  read  of  nine  ells  of  tavmy  cloth  for  three 
minstrels  ;  and  in  the  "  History  of  Jack  of  Newbury,"  of  "  a  noise  [i.e.  band] 
of  musicians  in  townie  coats,  who,  putting  off  their  caps,  asked  if  they  would 
have  music."  And  lastly,  there  is  a  description  of  the  person  who  personated 
"  an  ancient  mynstrell  "  in  one  of  the  pageants  which  were  played  before 
Queen  Elizabeth  at  her  famous  visit  to  Kenilworth,  which  is  curious 
enough  to  be  quoted.  "  A  person,  very  meet  seemed  he  for  the  purpose, 
of  a  forty-five  years  old,  apparalled  partly  as  he  would  himself.  His  cap 
off;  his  head  seemly  rounded  tonsterwise  ;*  fair  kembed,  that  with  a 
sponge  daintily  dipped  in  a  little  capon's  grease  was  finely  smoothen,  to 
make  it  shine  like  a  mallard's  wing.  His  beard  smugly  shaven ;  and  yet 
his  shirt  after  the  new  trick,  with  ruffs  fair  starched,  sleeked  and  glistering 
like  a  paire  of  new  shoes,  marshalled  in  good  order  with  a  setting  stick 
and  strut,  that  every  ruff  stood  up  like  a  wafer.  A  side  {i.e.  long)  gown  of 
Kendal  Green,  after  the  freshness  of  the  year  now,  gathered  at  the  neck 
with  a  narrow  gorget,  fastened  afore  with  white  clasp  and  keeper  close  up 
to  the  chin  ;  but  easily,  for  heat  to  undo  when  he  list.  Seemly  begirt  in  a 
red  caddis  girdle  :  from  that  a  pair  of  capped  Sheffield  knives  hanging 
a'  two  sides.  Out  of  his  bosom  drawn  forth  a  lappel  of  his  napkin  {i.e. 
handkerchief)  edged  with  a  blue  lace,  and  marked  with  a  true  love,  a 
heart,  and  a  D.  for  Damian,  for  he  was  but  a  batchelor  yet  His  gown 
had  side  {i.e.  long)  sleeves  down  to  midleg,  slit  from  the  shoulder  to  the 
hand,  and  lined  with  white  cotton.  His  doublet  sleeves  of  black  worsted  : 
upon  them  a  pair  of  paynets  (perhaps  points)  of  tawny  chamlet  laced 
along  the  wrist  with  blue  threaden  points,  a  weall  towards  the  hand  of 
fustian-a-napes.  A  pair  of  red  neather  socks.  A  pair  of  pumps  on  his 
feet,  with  a  cross  cut  at  the  toes  for  corns  :  not  new,  indeed,  yet  cleanly 
blackt  with  soot,  and  shining  as  a  shoeing  horn.  About  his  neck  a  red 
ribband  suitable  to  his  girdle.  His  harp  in  good  grace  dependant  before 
him.     His  wrest  tyed  to  a  green  lace,  and  hanging  by ;  under  the  gorget 

*  Which  Percy  supposes  to  mean  ■  tonsure-wise,"  like  priests  and  monks. 



The  Minstrels  of  the  Middle  Ages. 

of  his  gown  a  fair  flaggon  chain  (pewter  for)  silver,  as  a  squire-minstrel  * 
of  Middlesex  that  travelled  the  country  this  summer  season,  unto  fairs  and 
worshipful  men's  houses.  From  this  chain  hung  a  scutcheon,  with  metal 
and  colour  resplendant  upon  his  breast,  of  the  ancient  arms  of  Islington," 
to  which  place  he  is  represented  as  belonging. 

From  these  authorities  Percy  would  deduce  that  the  minstrels  were 
tonsured  and  apparelled  very  much  after  the  same  fashion  as  priests.     The 

A  Band  of  Minstrels. 

pictorial  authorities  do  not  bear  out  any  such  conclusion.  There  are 
abundant  authorities  for  the  belief  that  the  dress  of  the  minstrels  was 
remarkable  for  a  very  unclerical  sumptuousness ;  but  in  looking  through 
the  numerous  ancient  representations  of  minstrels  we  find  no  trace  of  the 
tonsure,  and  no  peculiarity  of  dress ;  they  are  represented  in  the  ordinary 
costume  of  their  time  j  in  colours  blue,  red,  grey,  particoloured,  like  other 
civilians ;  with  hoods,  or  hats,  or  without  either ;  frequently  the  different 
members  of  the  same  band  of  minstrels  present  all  these  differences  of 

*  Percy  supposes  from  this  expression  that  there  were  inferior  orders,  as  yeomen- 
minstrels.  May  we  not  also  infer  that  there  were  superior  orders,  as  knight-minstrels, 
over  whom  was  the  king-minstrel  ?  for  we  are  told  "  he  was  but  a  batchelor  (whose 
chivalric  signification  has  no  reference  to  matrimony)  yet."  We  are  disposed  to  believe 
that  this  was  a  real  minstrel.  Langham  tells  us  that  he  was  dressed  "partly  as  he  would 
himself:"  probably,  the  only  things  which  were  not  according  to  his  wont,  were  that  my 
Lord  of  Leicester  may  have  given  him  a  new  coat ;  that  he  had  a  little  more  capon's 
grease  than  usual  in  his  hair  ;  and  that  he  was  set  to  sing  "  a  solemn  song,  warranted  for 
story,  out  of  King  Arthur's  Acts."  instead  of  more  modern  minstrel  ware. 

Private  Minstrels. 


costume,  as  in  the  instance  here  given,  from  the  title-page  of  the  fourteenth 
century  MS.  Add.,  10,293;  proving  that  the  minstrels  did  not  affect  any 
uniformity  of  costume  whatever. 

The  household  minstrels  probably  wore  their  master's  badge*  (liveries 
were  not  usual  until  a  late  period) ;  others  the  badge  of  their  guild.  Thus 
in  the  Morte  Arthur,  Sir  Dinadan  makes  a  reproachful  lay  against  King 
Arthur,  and  teaches  it  an  harper,  that  hight  Elyot,  and  sends  him  to  sing 
it  before  King  Mark  and  his  nobles  at  a  great  feast.  The  king  asked, 
"  Thou  harper,  how  durst  thou  be  so  bold  to  sing  this  song  before  me  ?  " 
■  Sir,"  said  Elyot,  "  wit  you  well  I  am  a  minstrell,  and  I  must  doe  as  I  am 
commanded  of  these  lords  that  /  bear  the  armes  of '?  and  in  proof  of  the 
privileged  character  of  the  minstrel  we  find  the  outraged  king  replying, 
"  Thou  saiest  well,  I  charge  thee  that  thou  hie  thee  fast  out  of  my  sight" 
So  the  squire-minstrel  of  Middlesex,  who  belonged  to  Islington,  had  a 

Cymbals  and  Trumpets. 

chain  round  his  neck,  with  a  scutcheon  upon  it,  upon  which  were  blazoned 
the  arms  of  Islington.  And  in  the  effigies  of  the  Beverley  minstrels, 
which  we  have  given  on  page  298,  we  find  that  their  costume  is 
the  ordinary  costume  of  the  period,  and  is  not  alike  in  all;  but  that 
each  of  them  has  a  chain  round  his  neck,  to  which  is  suspended  what  is 
probably  a  scutcheon,  like  that  of  the  Islington  minstrel,     In  short,  a 

*  Heralds  in  the  fourteenth  century  bore  the  arms  of  their  lord  on  a  small  scutcheoa 
fastened  at  the  side  of  their  girdle. 


The  Minstrels  of  the  Middle  Ages. 

careful  examination  of  a  number  of  illustrations  in  illuminated  MSS.  of 
various  dates,  from  Saxon  downwards,  leaves  the  impression  that  minstrels 

Regals  and  Double  Pipe  (Royal  2  B  vii). 

wore  the  ordinary  costume  of  their  period,  more  or  less  rich  in  material,  or 
fashionable  in  cut,  according  to  their  means  and  taste ;  and  that  the  only 

Regals  or  Organ  (Royal,  14  E  iii). 

distinctive  mark  of  their  profession  was  the  instrument  which  each  bore, 
or,  as  in  the  case  of  the  Kenilworth  minstrel,  the  tuning  wrest  hung  by  a 

Musical  Instruments.  309 

riband  to  his  girdle ;  and  in  the  case  of  a  household  minstrel  the  badge  of 
the  lord  whom  he  served. 

The  forms  of  the  most  usual  musical  instruments  of  various  periods  may 
be  gathered  from  the  illustrations  which  have  already  been  given.  The 
most  common  are  the  harp,  fiddle,  cittern  or  lute,  hand-organ,  the  shalm 
or  psaltery,  the  pipe  and  tabor,  pipes  of  various  sizes  played  like  clarionets, 
but  called  flutes,  the  double  pipe,  hand-bells,  trumpets  and  horns,  bag- 
pipes, tambourine,  tabret,  drum,  and  cymbals.  Of  the  greater  number  of 
these  we  have  already  incidentally  given  illustrations;  we  add,  on  the 
last  page,  other  illustrations,  from  the  Royal  MS.,  2  B  vii.,  and  Royal 
MS.  14  E  iii.  In  the  fourteenth  century  new  instruments  were  invented. 
Guillaume  de  Marhault  in  his  poem  of  "  Le  Temps  Pastour,"  gives  us  an 
idea  of  the  multitude  of  instruments  which  composed  a  grand  concert  of 
the  fifteenth  century ;  he  says  * — 

"  La  je  vis  tout  en  un  cerne 
Viole,  rubebe,  guiterne, 
L'enmorache,  le  micamon, 
Citole  et  Psalterion, 
Harpes,  tabours,  trompes,  nacaires, 
Orgues,  comes  plus  de  dix  paires, 
Cornemuse,  flajos  et  chevrettes 
Douceines,  simbales,  clochettes, 
Tymbre,  la  flauste  lorehaigne, 
Et  le  grand  comet  d'Allemayne, 
Flacos  de  sans,  fistule,  pipe, 
Muse  d'Aussay,  trompe  petite, 
Buisine,  eles,  monochorde, 
Ou  il  n'  y  a  qu'une  corde ; 
Et  muse  de  blet  tout  ensemble. 
Et  certainment  il  me  semble 
Qu'  oncques  mais  tele  mfilodie 
Ne  feust  oncques  vene  ne  oye  ; 
Car  chascun  d'eux,  selon  l'accort 
De  son  instrument  sans  descort, 
Vitole,  guiteme,  citole, 
Harpe,  trompe,  come,  flajole, 
Pipe,  souffle,  muse,  naquaire, 
Taboure  et  qu  eunque  ou  put  faire 

*  "  Annales  Archaeologiques,"  vii.  p.  323. 


The  Minstrels  of  the  Middle  Ages. 

De  dois,  de  peune  et  a  l'archet, 
Ois  et  vis  en  ce  porchet." 

In  conclusion  we  give  a  group  of  musical  instruments  from  one  of  the 
illustrations  of  "  Der  Weise  Konig,"  a  work  of  the  close  of  the  fifteenth 

Musical  Instruments  of  the  \$th  Century. 




E  proceed,  in  this  division  of  our  work,  to  select  out  of  the  inex- 
haustible series  of  pictures  of  mediaeval  life  and  manners  con- 
tained in  illuminated  MSS.,  a  gallery  of  subjects  which  will 
illustrate  the  armour  and  costume,  the  military  life  and  chivalric  adventures, 
of  the  Knights  of  the  Middle  Ages ;  and  to  append  to  the  pictures  such 
explanations  as  they  may  seem  to  need,  and  such  discursive  remarks  as 
the  subjects  may  suggest. 

For  the  military  costume  of  the  Anglo-Saxon  period  we  have  the 
authority  of  the  descriptions  in  their  literature,  illustrated  by  drawings  in 
their  illuminated  MSS. ;  and  if  these  leave  anything  wanting  in  definiteness, 
the  minutest  details  of  form  and  ornamentation  may  often  be  recovered 
from  the  rusted  and  broken  relics  of  armour  and  weapons  which  have 
been  recovered  from  their  graves,  and  are  now  preserved  in  our  museums. 

Saxon  freemen  seem  to  have  universally  borne  arms.  Tacitus  tells  us  of 
their  German  ancestors,  that  swords  were  rare  among  them,  and  the  majority 
did  not  use  lances,  but  that  spears,  with  a  narrow,  sharp  and  short  head, 
were  the  common  and  universal  weapon,  used  either  in  distant  or  close  fight; 
and  that  even  the  cavalry  were  satisfied  with  a  shield  and  one  ot  these  spears. 

The  law  in  later  times  seems  to  have  required  freemen  to  bear  arms  for 


The  Knights  of  the  Middle  Ages. 

the  common  defence;  the  laws  of  Gula,  which  are  said  to  have  been 
originally  established  by  Hacon  the  Good  in  the  middle  of  the  eighth 
century,  required  every  man  who  possessed  six  marks  besides  his  clothes 
to  furnish  himself  with  a  red  shield  and  a  spear,  an  axe  or  a  sword  ;  he  who 
was  worth  twelve  marks  was  to  have  a  steel  cap  also ;  and  he  who  was 
worth  eighteen  marks  a  byrnie,  or  shirt  of  mail,  in  addition.  Accordingly, 
in  the  exploration  of  Saxon  graves  we  find  in  those  of  men  "  spears  and 
javelins  are  extremely  numerous,"  says  Mr.  C.  Roach  Smith,  "  and  of  a 

variety  of  shapes  and  sizes." "So  constantly  do  we  find  them  in 

the  Saxon  graves,  that  it  would  appear  no  man  above  the  condition  of  a 
serf  was  buried  without  one.  Some  are  of  large  size,  but  the  majority 
come  under  the  term  of  javelin  or  dart."     The  rusty  spear-head  lies  beside 

the  skull,  and  the  iron  boss  of  the  shield  on 
his  breast;  the  long,  broad,  heavy,  rusted 
sword  is  comparatively  seldom  found  beside 
the  skeleton ;  sometimes,  but  rarely,  the  iron 
frame  of  a  skull-cap  or  helmet  is  found  about 
the  head. 

An  examination  of  the  pictures  in  the 
Saxon  illuminated  MSS.  confirms  the  conclu- 
sion that  the  shield  and  spear  were  the  com- 
mon weapons.  Their  bearers  are  generally  in 
the  usual  civil  costume,  and  not  infrequently 
are  bare-headed.  The  spear-shaft  is  almost 
always  spoken  of  as  being  of  ash-wood ;  in- 
deed, the  word  asc  (ash)  is  used  by  metonymy 
for  a  spear ;  and  the  common  poetic  name 
for  a  soldier  is  <zsc-ber end,  or  cesc-born,  a  spear-bearer;  just  as,  in  later  times, 
we  speak  of  him  as  a  swordsman. 

We  learn  from  the  poets  that  the  shield — "  the  broad  war  disk  " — was 
made  of  linden-wood,  as  in  Beowulf : — 

"  He  could  not  then  refrain, 
but  grasped  his  shield 
the  yellow  linden, 
drew  his  ancient  sword." 

Saxon  Soldiers. 

Saxon  Militia. 


From  the  actual  remains  of  shields,  we  find  that  the  central  boss  was  of 
iron,  of  conical  shape,  and  that  a  handle  was  fixed  across  its  concavity  by 
which  it  was  held  in  the  hand. 

The  helmet  is  of  various  shapes  ;  the  commonest  are  the  three  repre- 

Saxon  Horse  Soldiers. 

sented  in  our  first  four  wood-cuts.  The  most  common  is  the  conical  shape 
seen  in  the  large  wood-cut  on  p.  316. 

The  Phrygian-shaped  helmet,  seen  in  the  single  figure  on  p.  314  is  also 
a  very  common  form ;  and  the  curious  crested  helmet  worn  by  all  the 
warriors  in  our  first  two  wood-cuts  of  Saxon  soldiers  is  also  common.  In 
some  cases  the  conical  helmet  was  of  iron,  but  perhaps  more  frequently  it 
was  of  leather,  strengthened  with  a  frame  of  iron. 

In  the  group  of  four  foot  soldiers  in  our  first  wood-cut,  it  will  be  observed 
that  the  men  wear  tunics,  hose,  and  shoes ;  the  multiplicity  of  folds  and 
fluttering  ends  in  the  drapery  is  a  characteristic  of  Saxon  art,  but  the  spirit 
and  elegance  of  the  heads  is  very  unusual  and  very  admirable. 

Our  first  three  illustrations  are  taken  from  a  beautiful  little  MS.  of  Pru- 
dentius  in  the  Cottonian  Library,  known  under  the  press  mark,  Cleopatra 
C.  iv.  The  illuminations  in  this  MS.  are  very  clearly  and  skilfully  drawn 
with  the  pen ;  indeed,  many  of  them  are  designed  with  so  much  spirit  and 


The  Knights  of  the  Middle  Ages, 

skill  and  grace,  as  to  make  them  not  only  of  antiquarian  interest,  but  also 
of  high  artistic  merit.  The  subjects  are  chiefly  illustrations  of  Scripture 
history  or  of  allegorical  fable ;  but,  thanks  to  the  custom  which  prevailed 
throughout  the  Middle  Ages  of  representing  all  such  subjects  in  contem- 
porary costume,  and  according  to  contemporary  manners  and  customs, 
the  Jewish  patriarchs  and  their  servants  afford  us  perfectly  correct  repre- 
sentations of  Saxon  thanes  and  their  cheorls ;  Goliath,  a  perfect  picture  of 
a  Saxon  warrior,  armed  cap-b-pied ;  and  Pharaoh  and  his  nobles  of  a  Saxon 
Basileus  and  his  witan.  Thus,  our  second  wood-cut  is  an  illustration  of 
the  incident  of  Lot  and  his  family  being  carried  away  captives  by  the 
Canaanitish  kings  after  their  successful  raid  against  the  cities  of  the  plain  ; 
but  it  puts  before  our  eyes  a  group  of  the  armed  retainers  of  a  Saxon  king 
on  a  military  expedition.  It  will  be  seen  that  they  wear  the  ordinary 
Saxon  civil  costume,  a  tunic  and  cloak ;  that  they  are  all  armed  with  the 
spear,  all  wear  crested  helmets ;  and  the  last  of  the  group  carries  a  round 
shield  suspended  at  his  back.  The  variety  of  attitude,  the  spirit  and  life 
of  the  figures,  and  the  skill  and  gracefulness  of  the  drawing,  are  admirable. 
Another  very  valuable  series  of  illustrations  of  Saxon  military  costume 
will  be  found  in  a  MS.  of  ^Elfric's  Paraphrase  of 
the  Pentateuch  and  Joshua,  in  the  British 
Museum  (Cleopatra  B.  iv.) ;  at  folio  25,  for  ex- 
ample, we  have  a  representation  of  Abraham 
pursuing  the  five  kings  in  order  to  rescue  Lot : 
in  the  version  of  the  Saxon  artist  the  patriarch 
and  his  Arab  servants  are  translated  into  a  Saxon 
thane  and  his  house  carles,  who  are  represented 
marching  in  a  long  array  which  takes  up  two 
bands  of  drawing  across  the  vellum  page. 

The  Anglo-Saxon  poets  let  us  know  that  chief- 
tains and  warriors  wore  a  body  defence,  which 

they  call  a  byrnie  or  a  battle-sark.     In  the  illu- 

Saxon  Soldier,  in  Leather  .  ,  . 

Armour.  minations  we  find  this  sometimes  01  leather,  as 

in  the  wood-cut  here  given  from  the  Prudentius  which  has  already  supplied 

us  with  two  illustrations.     It  is  very  usually  Vandyked  at  the  edges,  as 

Saxon  Armour.  315 

here  represented.  But  the  epithets,  "  iron  byrnie,"  and  "  ringed  byrnie," 
and  "  twisted  battle-sark,"  show  that  the  hauberk  was  often  made  of  iron 
mail.  In  some  of  the  illuminations  it  is  represented  as  if  detached  rings  of 
iron  were  sewn  flat  upon  it :  this  may  be  really  a  representation  of  a  kind 
of  jazerant  work,  such  as  was  frequently  used  in  later  times,  or  it  may  be 
only  an  unskilful  way  of  representing  the  ordinary  linked  maiL 

A  document  of  the  early  part  of  the  eighth  century,  given  in  Mr.  Thorpe's 
Anglo-Saxon  Laws,  seems  to  indicate  that  at  that  period  the  mail  hauberk 
was  usually  worn  only  by  the  higher  ranks.  In  distinguishing  between  the 
eorl  and  the  cheorl  it  says,  if  the  latter  thrive  so  well  that  he  have  a  helmet 
and  byrnie  and  sword  ornamented  with  gold,  yet  if  he  have  not  five  hydes 
of  land,  he  is  only  a  cheorl.  By  the  time  of  the  end  of  the  Saxon  era, 
however,  it  would  seem  that  the  men-at-arms  were  usually  furnished  with  a 
coat  of  fence,  for  the  warriors  in  the  battle  of  Hastings  are  nearly  all  so 
represented  in  the  Bayeux  tapestry. 

In  Yurie's  Paraphrase,  already  mentioned  (Cleopatra  B.  iv.),  at  folio  64, 
there  is  a  representation  of  a  king  clothed  in  such  a  mail  shirt,  armed  with 
sword  and  shield,  attended  by  an  armour-bearer,  who  carries  a  second 
shield  but  no  offensive  weapon,  his  business  being  to  ward  off  the  blows 
aimed  at  his  lord.  We  should  have  given  a  wood-cut  of  this  interesting 
group,  but  that  it  has  already  been  engraved  in  the  "  Pictorial  History  of 
England "  (vol.  i.)  and  in  Hewitt's  "  Ancient  Armour "  (vol.  i.  p.  60). 
This  king  with  his  shield-bearer  does  not  occur  in  an  illustration  of 
Goliath  and  the  man  bearing  a  shield  who  went  before  him,  nor  of  Saul 
and  his  armour-bearer,  where  it  would  be  suggested  by  the  text ;  but  is 
one  of  the  three  kings  engaged  in  battle  against  the  cities  of  the  plain ; 
it  seems  therefore  to  indicate  a  Saxon  usage.  Another  of  the  kings  in 
the  same  picture  has  no  hauberk,  but  only  the  same  costume  as  the  warrior 
in  the  wood-cut  on  the  next  page. 

In  the  Additional  MS.  11,695,  m  me  British  Museum,  a  work  of  the 
eleventh  century,  there  are  several  representations  of  warriors  thus  fully 
armed,  very  rude  and  coarse  in  drawing,  but  valuable  for  the  clearness 
with  which  they  represent  the  military  equipment  of  the  time.  At  folio 
194  there  is  a  large  figure  of  a  warrior  in  a  mail  shirt,  a  conical  helmet, 


The  Knights  of  the  Middle  Ages. 

strengthened  with  iron  ribs  converging  to  the  apex,  the  front  rib  extending 
downwards,  into  what  is  called  a  nasal,  i.e.,  a  piece  of  iron  extending 
downwards  over  the  nose,  so  as  to  protect  the  face  from  a  sword-cut  across 
the  upper  part  of  it.  At  folio  233  of  the  same  MS.  is  a  group  of  six 
warriors,   two  on  horseback  and  four  on    foot.     We  find  them  all  with 

No.  4. 

hauberk,  iron  helmets,  round  shields,  and  various  kinds  of  leg  defences ; 
they  have  spears,  swords,  and  one  of  the  horsemen  bears  a  banner  of 
characteristic  shape,  i.e.,  it  is  a  right-angled  triangle,  with  the  shortest  side 
applied  to  the  spear-shaft,  so  that  the  right  angle  is  at  the  bottom. 

Saxon  Military  Customs.  317 

A  few  extracts  from  the  poem  of  Beowulf,  a  curious  Saxon  fragment, 
which  the  best  scholars  concur  in  assigning  to  the  end  of  the  eighth  cen- 
tury, will  help  still  further  to  bring  these  ancient  warriors  before  our  mind's 

Here  is  a  scene  in  King  Hrothgar's  hall : 

"  After  evening  came 
and  Hrothgar  had  departed 
to  his  court, 
guarded  the  mansion 
countless  warriors, 
as  they  oft  ere  had  done, 
they  bared  the  bench-floor 
it  was  overspread 
with  beds  and  bolsters, 
they  set  at  their  heads 
their  disks  of  war, 
their  shield-wood  bright  ■ 
there  on  the  bench  was 
over  the  noble, 
easy  to  be  seen, 
his  high  martial  helm, 
his  ringed  bymie 
and  war-wood  stout." 

Beowulf  s  funeral  pole  is  said  to  be — 

"  with  helmets,  war  brands, 
and  bright  bymies  behung." 

And  in  this  oldest  of  Scandinavian  romances  we  have  the  natural  refleC' 
lions — 

"  the  hard  helm  shall 

adorned  with  gold 

from  the  fated  fall ; 

mortally  wounded  sleep 

those  who  war  to  rage 

by  trumpet  should  announce  ; 

in  like  manner  the  war  shirt 

which  in  battle  stood 

over  the  crash  of  shields 

the  bite  of  swords 

shall  moulder  after  the  warrior  ; 

the  bymie's  ring  may  not 

3 1 8  The  Knights  of  the  Middle  Ages. 

after  the  martial  leader 

go  far  on  the  side  of  heroes ; 

there  is  no  joy  of  harp 

no  glee-wood's  mirth, 

no  good  hawk 

swings  through  the  hall, 

nor  the  swift  steed 

tramps  the  city  place. 

Baleful  death 

has  many  living  kinds 

sent  forth." 

Reflections  which  Coleridge  summed  up  in  the  brief  lines— 

"  Their  swords  are  rust, 
Their  bones  are  dust, 
Their  souls  are  with  the  saints,  we  trust." 

The  wood-cut  on  page  316  is  taken  from  a  collection  of  various  Saxon 
pictures  in  the  British  Museum,  bound  together  in  the  volume  marked 
Tiberius  C.  vi.,  at  folio  9.  Our  wood-cut  is  a  reduced  copy.  In  the  original 
the  warrior  is  seven  or  eight  inches  high,  and  there  is,  therefore,  ample  room 
for  the  delineation  of  every  part  of  his  costume.  From  the  embroidery  of 
the  tunic,  and  the  ornamentation  of  the  shield  and  helmet,  we  conclude 
that  we  have  before  us  a  person  of  consideration,  and  he  is  represented 
as  in  the  act  of  combat ;  but  we  see  his  armour  and  arms  are  only  those 
to  which  we  have  already  affirmed  that  the  usual  equipment  was  limited. 
The  helmet  seems  to  be  strengthened  with  an  iron  rim  and  converging 
ribs,  and  is  furnished  with  a  short  nasal. 

The  figure  is  without  the  usual  cloak,  and  therefore  the  better  shows  the 
fashion  of  the  tunic.  The  banding  of  the  legs  was  not  for  defence,  it  is 
common  in  civil  costume.  The  quasi-banding  of  the  forearm  is  also  some- 
times found  in  civil  costume ;  it  seems  not  to  be  an  actual  banding,  still 
less  a  spiral  armlet,  but  merely  a  fashion  of  wearing  the  tunic  sleeve.  We 
see  how  the  sword  is,  rather  inartificially,  slung  by  a  belt  over  the 
shoulder;  how  the  shield  is  held  by  the  iron  handle  across  its  hollow 
spiked  umbo  ;  and  how  the  barbed  javelin  is  cast. 

On  the  preceding  page  of  this  MS.  is  a  similar  figure,  but  without  the 

Saxon  Weapons.  319 

There  were  some  other  weapons  frequently  used  by  the  Saxons  which 
we  have  not  yet  had  occasion  to  mention.  The  most  important  of  these 
is  the  axe.  It  is  not  often  represented  in  illuminations,  and  is  very  rarely 
found  in  graves,  but  it  certainly  was  extensively  in  use  in  the  latter  part 
of  the  Anglo-Saxon  period,  and  was  perhaps  introduced  by  the  Danes. 
The  house  carles  of  Canute,  we  are  expressly  told,  were  armed  with  axes, 
halberds,  and  swords,  ornamented  with  gold.  In  the  ship  which  Godwin 
presented  to  Hardicanute,  William  of  Malmesbury  tells  us  the  soldiers 
wore  two  bracelets  of  gold  on  each  arm,  each  bracelet  weighing  sixteen 
ounces ;  they  had  gilt  helmets ;  in  the  right  hand  they  carried  a  spear  of 
iron,  and  in  the  left  a  Danish  axe,  and  they  wore  swords  hilted  with  gold. 
The  axe  was  also  in  common  use  by  the  Saxons  at  the  battle  of  Hastings. 
There  are  pictorial  examples  of  the  single  axe  in  the  Cottonian  MS.,  Cleo- 
patra C.  viii. ;  of  the  double  axe — the  bipennis — in  the  Harleian  MS., 
603 ;  and  of  various  forms  of  the  weapon,  including  the  pole-axe,  in  the 
Bayeux  tapestry. 

The  knife  or  dagger  was  also  a  Saxon  weapon.  There  is  a  picture  in 
the  Anglo-Saxon  MS.  in  the  Paris  Library,  called  the  Duke  de  Bern's 
Psalter,  in  which  a  combatant  is  armed  with  what  appears  to  be  a  large 
double-edged  knife  and  a  shield,  and  actual  examples  of  it  occur  in  Saxon 
graves.  The  seax,  which  is  popularly  believed  to  have  been  a  dagger  and 
a  characteristic  Saxon  weapon,  seems  to  have  been  a  short  single-edged 
slightly  curved  weapon,  and  is  rarely  found  in  England.  It  is  mentioned 
in  Beowulf: — he — 

*'  drew  his  deadly  seax, 
bitter  and  battle  sharp, 
that  he  on  his  bymie  bore." 

The  sword  was  usually  about  three  feet  long,  two-edge^l  and  heavy  in 
the  blade.  Sometimes,  especially  in  earlier  examples,  it  is  without  a 
guard.  Its  hilt  was  sometimes  of  the  ivory  of  the  walrus,  occasionally  of 
gold,  the  blade  was  sometimes  inlaid  with  gold  ornaments  and  runic  verses. 
Thus  in  Beowulf — 

u  So  was  on  the  surface 
of  the  bright  gold 

320  The  Knights  of  the  Middle  Ages. 

with  runic  letters 

lightly  marked, 

set  and  said,  for  whom  that  sword, 

costliest  of  irons, 

was  first  made, 

with  twisted  hilt  and 

serpent  shaped." 

The  Saxons  indulged  in  many  romantic  fancies  about  their  swords.  Some 
swordsmiths  chanted  magical  verses  as  they  welded  them,  and  tempered 
them  with  mystical  ingredients.     Beowulf's  sword  was  a — 

"tempered  falchion 
that  had  before  been  one 
of  the  old  treasures  ; 
its  edge  was  iron 
tainted  with  poisonous  things 
hardened  with  warrior  blood  ; 
never  had  it  deceived  any  man 
of  those  who  brandished  it  with  hands." 

Favourite  swords  had  names  given  them,  and  were  handed  down  from 
father  to  son,  or  passed  from  champion  to  champion,  and  became  famous. 
Thus,  again,  in  Beowulf,  we  read — 

'*  He  could  not  then  refrain, 
but  grasped  his  shield, 
the  yellow  linden, 
drew  his  ancient  sword 
that  among  men  was 
a  relic  of  Eanmund, 
Ohthere's  son, 
of  whom  in  conflict  was, 
when  a  friendless  exile, 
Weohstan  the  slayer 
with  falchions  edges, 
and  from  his  kinsmen  bore  away 
_  the  brown-hued  helm, 

the  ringed  byrnie, 
the  old  Eotenish*  sword 
which  him  Onela  had  given." 

There  is  a  fine  and  very  perfect  example   of  a  Saxon  sword  in  the 

•  "  Eoten,"  a  giant;  "Eotenish,"  made  by  or  descended  from  the  giants. 

Saxon  Weapons.  321 

British  Museum,  which  was  found  in  the  bed  of  the  river  Withara,  at 
Lincoln.  The  sheath  was  usually  of  wood,  covered  with  leather,  and 
tipped,  and  sometimes  otherwise  ornamented  with  metal. 

The  spear  was  used  javelin-wise,  and  the  warrior  going  into  battle 
sometimes  carried  several  of  them.  They  are  long-bladed,  often  barbed,  as 
represented  in  the  woodcut  on  p.  316,  and  very  generally  have  one  or  two 
little  cross-bars  below  the  head,  as  in  cuts  on  pp.  313  and  314.  The  Saxon 
artillery,  besides  the  javelin,  was  the  bow  and  arrows.  The  bow  is  usually 
a  small  one,  of  the  old  classical  shape,  not  the  long  bow  for  which  the 
English  yeomen  afterwards  became  so  famous,  and  which  seems  to  have 
been  introduced  by  the  Normans. 

In  the  latest  period  of  the  Saxon  monarchy,  the  armour  and  weapons 
were  almost  identical  with  those  used  on  the  Continent.  We  have 
abundant  illustrations  of  them  in  the  Bayeux  tapestry.  In  that  invaluable 
historical  monument,  the  minutest  differences  between  the  Saxon  and 
Norman  knights  and  men-at-arms  seem  to  be  carefully  observed,  even  to 
the  national  fashions  of  cutting  the  hair ;  and  we  are  therefore  justified  in 
assuming  that  there  were  no  material  differences  in  the  military  equip- 
ment, since  we  find  none  indicated,  except  that  the  Normans  used  the 
long  bow  and  the  Saxons  did  not.  We  have  abstained  from  taking  any 
illustrations  from  the  tapestry,  because  the  whole  series  has  been  several 
times  engraved,  and  is  well  known,  or,  at  least,  is  easily  accessible,  to  those 
who  are  interested  in  the  subject.  We  have  preferred  to  take  an  illustra- 
tion from  a  MS.  in  the  British  Museum,  marked  Harleian  2,895,  fr°m 
folio  82  v.  The  warrior,  who  is  no  less  a  person  than  Goliath  of  Gath, 
has  a  hooded  hauberk,  with  sleeves  down  to  the  elbow,  over  a  green 
tunic.  The  legs  are  tinted  blue  in  the  drawing,  but  seem  to  be  unarmed, 
except  for  the  green  boots,  which  reach  half  way  to  the  knee.  He  wears 
an  iron  helmet  with  a  nasal,  and  the  hood  appears  to  be  fastened  to  the 
nasal,  so  as  to  protect  the  lower  part  of  the  face.  The  large  shield  is 
red,  with  a  yellow  border,  and  is  hung  from  the  neck  by  a  chain.  The 
belt  round  his  waist  is  red.  The  well-armed  giant  leans  upon  his  spear, 
looking  down  contemptuously  on  David,  whom  it  has  not  been  thought 
necessary  to  include  in  our  copy  of  the  picture.     The  group  forms  a  very 



The  Knights  of  the  Middle  Ages. 

appropriate  filling-in  of  the  great  initial  letter  B  of  the  Psalm  Benedidus 
Dns.  Ds.  Ms.  qui  docet  manus  meas  ad  prmlium  et  digitos  meos  ad  bellum 
(Blessed  be  the  Lord  my  God,  who  teacheth  my  hands  to  war  and  my 
fingers  to  fight).  In  the  same  MS.,  at  folio  70,  there 
are  two  men  armed  with  helmet  and  sword,  and  at 
folio  81  v.  a  group  of  armed  men  on  horseback,  in 
sword,  shield,  and  spurs. 

It  may  be  convenient  to  some  of  our  readers,  if  we 
indicate  here  where  a  few  other  examples  of  Saxon 
military  costume  may  be  found  which  we  have  noted 
down,  but  have  not  had  occasion  to  refer  to  in  the 
above  remarks. 

In  the  MS.  of  Prudentius  (Cleopatra  C.  vni.),  from 
which  we  have  taken  our  first  three  woodcuts,  are 
many  other  pictures  well  worth  study.  On  the  same 
page  (folio  1  v.)  as  that  which  contains  our  wood-cut 
p.  312,  there  is  another  very  similar  group  on  the  lower 
part  of  the  page ;  on  folio  2  is  still  another  group,  in 
which  some  of  the  faces  are  most  charming  in  drawing 
and  expression.  At  folio  15  v.  there  is  a  spirited 
combat  of  two  footmen,  armed  with  sword  and  round 
shield,  and  clad  in  short  leather  coats  of  fence, 
vandyked  at  the  edges.  At  folio  24  v.  is  an  alle- 
gorical female  figure  in  a  short  leather  tunic,  with  shading  on  it  which 
seems  to  indicate  that  the  hair  of  the  leather  has  been  left  on,  and  is  worn 
outside,  which  we  know  from  other  sources  was  one  of  the  fashions  of  the 
time.  In  the  MS.  of  ^lfric's  Paraphrase  (Claud.  B.  iv.)  already  quoted, 
there  are,  besides  the  battle  scene  at  folio  24  v.,  in  which  occurs  the 
king  and  his  armour-bearer,  at  folio  25  two  long  lines  of  Saxon  horsemen 
marching  across  the  page,  behind  Abraham,  who  wears  a  crested  Phrygian 
helm.  On  the  reverse  of  folio  25  there  is  another  group,  and  also  on  folios 
62  and  64.  On  folio  52  is  another  troop,  of  Esau's  horsemen,  marching 
across  the  page  in  ranks  of  four  abreast,  all  bareheaded  and  armed  with 
spears.      At  folio  96  v.  is  another  example  of  a  warrior,  with  a  shield- 

Saxon  Arms  and  Armour.  323 

bearer.  The  pictures  in  the  latter  part  of  this  MS.  are  not  nearly  so 
clearly  delineated  as  in  the  former  part,  owing  to  their  having  been  tinted 
with  colour ;  the  colour,  however,  enables  us  still  more  completely  to  fill 
in  to  the  mind's  eye  the  distinct  forms  which  we  have  gathered  from  the 
former  part  of  the  book.  The  large  troops  of  soldiers  are  valuable,  as 
showing  us  the  style  of  equipment  which  was  common  in  the  Saxon 

There  is  another  MS.  of  Prudentius  in  the  British  Museum  of  about  the 
same  date,  and  of  the  same  school  of  art,  though  not  quite  so  finely 
executed,  which  is  well  worth  the  study  of  the  artist  in  search  of  authori- 
ties for  Saxon  military  (and  other)  costume,  and  full  of  interest  for  the 
amateur  of  art  and  archaeology.  Its  press  mark  is  Cottonian,  Titus  D.  xvi. 
On  the  reverse  of  folio  2  is  a  group  of  three  armed  horsemen,  representing 
the  confederate  kings  of  Canaan  carrying  off  Lot,  while  Abraham,  at  the 
head  of  another  group  of  armed  men,  is  pursuing  them.  On  folio  3  is 
another  group  of  armed  horsemen.  After  these  Scripture  histories  come 
some  allegorical  subjects,  conceived  and  drawn  with  great  spirit.  At 
folio  6  v.,  "Pudicitia  pugnat  contra  Libidinem"  Pudicitia  being  a 
woman  armed  with  hauberk,  helmet,  spear,  and  shield.  On  the  opposite 
page  Pudicitia — in  a  very  spirited  attitude — is  driving  her  spear  through 
the  throat  of  Libido.  On  folio  26  v.,  "  Discordia  vulnerat  occulte 
Concordiutn"  Concord  is  represented  as  a  woman  armed  with  a  loose- 
sleeved  hauberk,  helmet,  and  sword.  Discord  is  lifting  up  the  skirt  of 
Concord's  hauberk,  and  thrusting  a  sword  into  her  side.  In  the  Harleian 
MS.  2,803,  is  a  Vulgate  Bible,  of  date  about  1 170  a.d.  ;  there  are  no  pictures, 
only  the  initial  letters  of  the  various  books  are  illuminated.  But  while 
the  illuminator  was  engaged  upon  the  initial  of  the  Second  Book  of  Kings, 
his  eye  seems  to  have  been  caught  by  the  story  of  Saul's  death  in  the  last 
chapter  of  the  First  Book,  which  happens  to  come  close  by  in  the  parallel 
column  of  the  great  folio  page  : — Arripuit  itaqu,  gladium  d  erruit  sup.  eum 
(Therefore  Saul  took  a  sword,  and  fell  upon  it) ;  and  he  has  sketched  in 
the  scene  with  pen-and-ink  on  the  margin  of  the  page,  thus  affording  us 
another  authority  for  the  armour  of  a  Saxon  king  when  actually  engaged  in 
battle.     He  wears  a  hauberk,  with  an  ornamented  border,  has  his  crown 

3  24  The  Knights  of  the  Middle  Ages. 

on  his  head,  and  spurs  on  his  heels  ;  has  placed  his  sword-hilt  on  the 
ground,  and  fallen  upon  it. 

In  the  Additional  MS.  11,695,  on  folio  I02  v->  are  four  armed  men 
on  horseback,  habited  in  hauberks  without  hoods.  Two  of  them  have  the 
sleeves  extending  to  the  wrist,  two  have  loose  sleeves  to  the  elbow  only, 
showing  that  the  two  fashions  were  worn  contemporaneously.  They  all 
have  mail  hose  ;  one  of  them  is  armed  with  a  bow,  the  rest  with  the 
sword.  There  are  four  men  in  similar  armour  on  folio  136  v.  of  the 
same  MS.  Also  at  folio  143,  armed  with  spear,  sword,  and  round  orna- 
mented shield.     At  folio  222  V.  are  soldiers  manning  a  gate-tower. 

When  the  soldiers  so  very  generally  wore  the  ordinary  citizen  costume, 
it  becomes  necessary,  in  order  to  give  a  complete  picture  of  the  military 
costume,  to  say  a  few  words  on  the  dress  which  the  soldier  wore  in  com- 
mon with  the  citizen.  The  tunic  and  mantle  composed  the  national 
costume  of  the  Saxons.  The  tunic  reached  about  to  the  knee  :  some- 
times it  was  slit  up  a  little  way  at  the  sides,  and  it  often  had  a  rich  orna- 
mented border  round  the  hem,  extending  round  the  side  slits,  making  the 
garment  almost  exactly  resemble  the  ecclesiastical  tunic  or  Dalmatic.  It 
had  also  very  generally  a  narrower  ornamental  border  round  the  opening 
for  the  neck.     The  tunic  was  sometimes  girded  round  the  waist. 

The  Saxons  were  famous  for  their  skill  in  embroidery,  and  also  in 
metal-work ;  and  there  are  sufficient  proofs  that  the  tunic  was  often  richly 
embroidered.  There  are  indications  of  it  in  the  wood-cut  on  p.  316  ;  and 
in  the  relics  of  costume  found  in  the  Saxon  graves  are  often  buckles  of 
elegant  workmanship,  which  fastened  the  belt  with  which  the  tunic  was  girt. 
The  mantle  was  in  the  form  of  a  short  cloak,  and  was  usually  fastened  at 
the  shoulder,  as  in  the  wood-cuts  on  pp.  3 1 2,  3 1 3,  3 1 4,  so  as  to  leave  the  right 
arm  unencumbered  by  its  folds.  The  brooch  with  which  this  cloak  was 
fastened  formed  a  very  conspicuous  item  of  costume.  They  were  of  large 
size,  some  ot  them  of  bronze  gilt,  others  of  gold,  beautifully  ornamented 
with  enamels ;  and  there  is  this  interesting  fact  about  them,  they  seem  to 
corroborate  the  old  story,  that  the  Saxon  invaders  were  of  three  different 
tribes — the  Jutes,  Angles,  and  Saxons — who  subdued  and  inhabited  different 
portions  of  Britain.     For  in  Kent  and  the  Isle  of  Wight,  the  settlements  of 

Saxon  Ornaments.  325 

the  Jutes,  brooches  are  found  of  circular  form,  often  of  gold  and  enamelled. 
In  the  counties  of  Yorkshire,  Derby,  Leicester,  Nottingham,  Northampton, 
and  in  the  eastern  counties,  a  large  gilt  bronze  brooch  of  peculiar  form  is 
very  commonly  found,  and  seems  to  denote  a  peculiar  fashion  of  the 
Angles,  who  inhabited  East  Anglia,  Mercia,  and  Northumbria.  Still  ano- 
ther variety  of  fashion,  shaped  like  a  saucer,  has  been  discovered  in  the 
counties  of  Gloucester,  Oxford,  and  Buckingham,  on  the  border  between 
the  Mercians  and  West  Saxons.  It  is  curious  to  find  these  peculiar 
fashions  thus  confirming  the  ancient  and  obscure  tradition  about  the 
original  Saxon  settlements.  The  artist  will  bear  in  mind  that  the  Saxons 
seem  generally  to  have  settled  in  the  open  country,  not  in  the  towns,  and 
to  have  built  timber  halls  and  cottages  after  their  own  custom,  and  to  have 
avoided  the  sites  of  the  Romano-British  villas,  whose  blackened  ruins  must 
have  thickly  dotted  at  least  the  southern  and  south-eastern  parts  of  the 
island.  They  appear  to  have  built  no  fortresses,  if  we  except  a  few  erected 
at  a  late  period,  to  check  the  incursions  of  the  Danes.  But  they  had  the 
old  Roman  towns  left,  in  many  cases  with  their  walls  and  gates  tolerably 
entire.  In  the  Saxon  MS.  Psalter,  Harleian  603,  are  several  illuminations 
in  which  walled  towns  and  gates  are  represented.  But  we  do  not  gather 
that  they  were  very  skilful  either  in  the  attack  or  defence  of  fortified 
places.  Indeed,  their  weapons  and  armour  were  of  a  very  primitive  kind, 
and  their  warfare  seems  to  have  been  conducted  after  a  very  unscientific 
fashion.  Little  chance  had  their  rude  Saxon  hardihood  against  the  military 
genius  of  William  the  Norman  and  the  disciplined  valour  of  his  bands  of 
mercenaries . 



HE  Conquest  and  subsequent  confiscations  put  the  land  of  Eng- 
land so  entirely  into  the  hands  of  William  the  Conqueror,  that 
he  was  able  to  introduce  the  feudal  system  into  England  in  a 
more  simple  and  symmetrical  shape  than  that  in  which  it  obtained  in  any 
other  country  of  Europe.  The  system  was  a  very  intelligible  one.  The 
king  was  supposed  to  be  the  lord  of  all  the  land  of  the  kingdom.  He 
retained  large  estates  in  his  own  hands,  and  from  these  estates  chiefly  he 
derived  his  personal  followers  and  his  royal  revenues.  The  rest  of  the 
land  he  let  in  large  lordships  to  his  principal  nobles,  on  condition  that 
they  should  maintain  for  the  defence  of  the  kingdom  a  certain  number  of 
men  armed  after  a  stipulated  fashion,  and  should  besides  aid  him  on  cer- 
tain occasions  with  money  payments,  with  which  we  have  at  present  no 

These  chief  tenants  of  the  crown  followed  the  example  of  the  sovereign. 
Each  retained  a  portion  of  the  land  in  his  own  hands,  and  sub-let  the 
rest  in  estates  of  larger  or  smaller  size,  on  condition  that  each  noble  or 
knight  who  held  of  him  should  supply  a  proportion  of  the  armed  force  he 
was  required  to  furnish  to  the  royal  standard,  and  contribute  a  propor- 
tion of  the  money  payments  for  which  he  was  liable  to  be  called  upon. 
Each  knight  let  the  farms  on  his  manor  to  his  copyholders,  on  condition 
that  they  provided  themselves  with  the  requisite  arms,  and  assembled 
under  his  banner  when  called  upon  for  military  suit  and  service ;  and 
they  rendered  certain  personal  services,  and  made  certain  payments  in 
money  or  in  kind  besides,  in  lieu  of  rent.     Each  manor,  therefore,  fur- 

The  Feudal  Militia.  327 

nished  its  troop  of  soldiers ;  the  small  farmers,  perhaps,  and  the  knight's 
personal  retainers  fighting  on  foot,  clad  in  leather  jerkins,  and  armed  with 
pike  or  bow ;  two  or  three  of  his  greater  copyholders  in  skull  caps  and 
coats  of  fence ;  his  younger  brothers  or  grown-up  sons  acting  as  men- 
at-arms  and  esquires,  on  horseback,  in  armour  almost  or  quite  as  complete 
as  his  own ;  while  the  knight  himself,  on  his  war  horse,  armed  from  top  to 
toe — cap-d-pud — with  shield  on  arm  and  lance  in  hand,  with  its  knight's 
pennon  fluttering  from  the  point,  was  the  captain  of  the  little  troop.  The 
troops  thus  furnished  by  his  several  manors  made  up  the  force  which  the 
feudal  lord  was  bound  to  furnish  the  king,  and  the  united  divisions  made 
up  the  army  of  the  kingdom. 

Besides  this  feudal  army  bound  to  render  suit  and  service  at  the  call  of 
its  sovereign,  the  laws  of  the  kingdom  also  required  all  men  of  fit  age — 
between  sixteen  and  sixty — to  keep  themselves  furnished  with  arms,  and 
made  them  liable  to  be  called  out  en  masse  in  great  emergencies.  This 
was  the  Posse  Comitatus,  the  force  of  the  county,  and  was  under  the  com- 
mand of  the  sheriff.  We  learn  some  particulars  on  the  subject  from  an 
assize  of  arms  of  Henry  II.,  made  in  1181,  which  required  all  his  subjects 
being  free  men  to  be  ready  in  defence  of  the  realm.  Whosoever  holds 
one  knight's  fee,  shall  have  a  hauberk,  helmet,  shield  and  lance,  and  every 
knight  as  many  such  equipments  as  he  has  knight's  fees  in  his  domain. 
Every  free  layman  having  ten  marks  in  chattels  shall  have  a  habergeon, 
iron  cap,  and  lance.  All  burgesses  and  the  whole  community  of  freemen 
shall  have  each  a  coat  of  fence  (padded  and  quilted,  a  wambeys),  iron  cap, 
and  lance.  Any  one  having  more  arms  than  those  required  by  the  statute, 
was  to  sell  or  otherwise  dispose  of  them,  so  that  they  might  be  utilised  for 
the  king's  service,  and  no  one  was  to  carry  arms  out  of  the  kingdom. 

There  were  two  great  points  of  difference  between  the  feudal  system  as 
introduced  into  England  and  as  established  on  the  Continent.  William 
made  all  landowners  owe  fealty  to  himself,  and  not  only  the  tenants  in 
capite.  And  next,  though  he  gave  his  chief  nobles  immense  possessions, 
these  possessions  were  scattered  about  in  different  parts  of  the  kingdom. 
The  great  provinces  which  had  once  been  separate  kingdoms  of  the  Saxon 
heptarchy,  still   retained,  down  to  the  time  of  the  Confessor,  much  of 

328  The  Knights  of  the  Middle  Ages. 

their  old  political  feeling.  Kentish  men,  for  example,  looked  on  one 
another  as  brothers,  but  Essex  men,  or  East  Anglians,  or  Mercians,  or 
Northumbrians,  were  foreigners  to  them.  If  the  Conqueror  had  committed 
the  blunder  of  giving  his  great  nobles  all  their  possessions  together,  Rufus 
might  have  found  the  earls  of  Mercia  or  Northumbria  semi-independent, 
as  the  kings  of  France  found  their  great  vassals  of  Burgundy,  and  Cham- 
pagne, and  Normandy,  and  Bretagne.  But,  by  the  actual  arrangement, 
every  county  was  divided ;  one  powerful  noble  had  a  lordship  here,  and 
another  had  half-a-dozen  manors  there,  and  some  religious  community  had 
one  or  two  manors  between.  The  result  was,  that  though  a  combination 
of  great  barons  was  powerful  enough  to  coerce  John  or  Henry  III.,  or  a 
single  baron  like  Warwick  was  powerful  enough,  when  the  nobility  were 
divided  into  two  factions,  to  turn  the  scale  to  one  side  or  the  other,  no 
one  was  ever  able  to  set  the  power  of  the  crown  at  defiance,  or  to  establish 
a  semi-independence ;  the  crown  was  always  powerful  enough  to  enforce  a 
sufficiently  arbitrary  authority  over  them  all.  The  consequence  was  that 
tnere  was  little  of  the  clannish  spirit  among  Englishmen.  They  rallied 
round  their  feudal  superior,  but  the  sentiment  of  loyalty  was  warmly  and 
directly  towards  the  crown. 

We  must  not,  however,  pursue  the  general  subject  further  than  we  have 
done,  in  order  to  obtain  some  apprehension  of  the  position  in  the  body 
politic  occupied  by  the  class  of  persons  with  whom  we  are  specially  con- 
cerned. Of  their  social  position  we  may  perhaps  briefly  arrive  at  a  correct 
estimate,  if  we  call  to  mind  that  nearly  all  our  rural  parishes  are  divided 
into  several  manors,  which  date  from  the  Middle  Ages,  some  more,  some 
less  remotely ;  for  as  population  increased  and  land  increased  in  value,  there 
was  a  tendency  to  the  subdivision  of  old  manors  and  the  creation  of  new 
ones  out  of  them.  Each  of  these  manors,  in  the  times  to  which  our  re- 
searches are  directed,  maintained  a  family  of  gentle  birth  and  knightly 
rank.  The  head  of  the  family  was  usually  a  knight,  and  his  sons  were 
eligible  for,  and  some  of  them  aspirants  to,  the  same  rank  in  chivalry.  So 
that  the  great  body  of  the  knightly  order  consisted  of  the  country  gentle- 
men— the  country  squires  we  call  them  now,  then  they  were  the  country 
knights — whose  wealth  and  social  importance  gave  them  a  claim  to  the 

Twelfth  Century  Armour.  329 

rank ;  and  to  these  we  must  add  such  of  their  younger  brothers  and  grown- 
up sons  as  had  ambitiously  sought  for  and  happily  achieved  the  chivalric 
distinction  by  deeds  of  arms.  The  rest  of  the  brothers  and  sons  who  had 
not  entered  the  service  of  the  Church  as  priest  or  canon,  monk  or  friar, 
or  into  trade,  continued  in  the  lower  chivalric  and  social  rank  of  squires. 

When  we  come  to  look  for  authorities  for  the  costume  and  manners  of 
the  knights  of  the  Middle  Ages,  we  find  a  great  scarcity  of  them  for  the 
period  between  the  Norman  Conquest  and  the  beginning  of  the  Edwardian 
era.  The  literary  authorities  are  not  many ;  there  are  as  yet  few  of  the 
illuminated  MSS.,  from  which  we  derive  such  abundant  material  in  the 
fourteenth  and  fifteenth  centuries  ;*  the  sepulchral  monuments  are  not 
numerous ;  the  valuable  series  of  monumental  brasses  has  not  begun  ;  the 
Bayeux  tapestry,  which  affords  abundant  material  for  the  special  time  to 
which  it  relates,  we  have  abstained  from  drawing  upon ;  and  there  are  few 
subjects  in  any  ether  class  of  pictorial  art  to  help  us  out 

The  figure  of  Goliath,  which  we  gave  in  our  last  chapter  (p.  322),  will  serve 
very  well  for  a  general  representation  of  a  knight  of  the  twelfth  century. 
In  truth,  from  the  Norman  Conquest  down  to  the  introduction  of  plate 
armour  at  the  close  of  the  thirteenth  century,  there  was  wonderfully  little 
alteration  in  the  knightly  armour  and  costume.  It  would  seem  that  the 
body  armour  consisted  of  garments  of  the  ordinary  fashion,  either  quilted 
in  their  substance  to  deaden  the  force  of  a  blow,  or  covered  with  mailles 
(rings)  on  the  exterior,  to  resist  the  edge  of  sword  or  point  of  lance.  The 
ingenuity  of  the  armourer  showed  itself  in  various  ways  of  quilting,  and 
various  methods  of  applying  the  external  defence  of  metal.  Of  the  quilted 
armours  we  know  very  little.  In  the  illuminations  is  often  seen  armour 
covered  over  with  lines  arranged  in  a  lozenge  pattern,  which  perhaps  repre- 
sents garments  stuffed  and  sewn  in  this  commonest  of  all  patterns  of  quilting; 
but  it  has  been  suggested  that  it  may  represent  lozenged-shaped  scales,  of 
horn  or  metal,  fastened  upon  the  face  of  the  garments.     In  the  wood-cut 

*  The  Harl.  MS.  603,  of  the  close  of  the  eleventh  century,  contains  a  number  of 
military  subjects  rudely  drawn,  but  conveying  suggestions  which  the  artist  will  be  able  to 
interpret  and  profit  by.  In  the  Add.  MS.  28,107,  °f  date  a.d.  1096,  at  f.  25  v.,  is  a 
Goliath;  and  at  f.  1,630  v.,  a  group  of  soldiers. 


The  Knights  of  the  Middle  Ages, 

here  given  from  the  MS.  Caligula  A.  vii.,  we  have  one  of  the  clearest  and 
best  extant  illustrations  of  this  quilted  armour. 

In  the  mail  armour  there  seem  to  have  been  different  ways  of  applying 
the  mailles.  Sometimes  it  is  represented  as  if  the  rings  were  sewn  by 
one  edge  only,  and  at  such  a  distance  that  each  overlapped  the  other  in 
the  same  row,  but  the  rows  do  not  overlap  one  another.     Sometimes  they 

look  as  if  each  row  of  rings  had  been  sewn 
upon  a  strip  of  linen  or  leather  and  then 
the  strips  applied  to  the  garment.  Some- 
times the  rings  were  interlinked,  as  in  a 
common  steel  purse,  so  that  the  garment 
was  entirely  of  steel  rings.  Very  frequently 
we  find  a  surcoat  or  chausses  represented, 
as  if  rings  or  little  discs  of  metal  were  sewn 
flat  all  over  the  garment.  It  is  possible 
that  this  is  only  an  artistic  way  of  indicat- 
ing that  the  garment  was  covered  with 
rings,  after  one  of  the  methods  above  de- 
scribed ;  but  it  is  also  possible  that  a  light 
armour  was  composed  of  rings  thus  sparely 
sewn  upon  a  linen  or  leather  garment.  It 
is  possible  also  that  little  round  plates  of 
metal  or  horn  were  used  in  this  way  for 
defence,  for  we  have  next  to  mention  that 
scale  armour  is  sometimes,  though  rarely, 
found  ;  it  consisted  of  small  scales,  usually 
rectangular,  and  probably  usually  of  horn, 
though  sometimes  of  metal,  attached  to  a  linen  or  leather  garment. 

The  shield  and  helmet  varied  somewhat  in  shape  at  various  times.  The 
shield  in  the  Bayeux  tapestry  was  kite-shaped,  concave,  and  tolerably 
large,  like  that  of  Goliath  on  p.  322.  The  tendency  of  its  fashion  was 
continually  to  grow  shorter  in  proportion  to  its  width,  and  flatter.  The 
round  Saxon  target  continued  in  use  throughout  the  Middle  Ages,  more 
especially  for  foot-soldiers. 

Quilted  Armour. 

Twelfth  Century  Arms  and  Armour.  33 1 

The  helmet,  at  the  beginning  of  the  period,  was  like  the  old  Saxon 
conical  helmet,  with  a  nasal ;  and  this  continued  in  occasional  use  far  into 
the  fourteenth  century.  About  the  end  of  the  twelfth  century,  the  cylin- 
drical helmet  of  iron  enclosing  the  whole  head,  with  horizontal  slits  for 
vision,  came  into  fashion.  Richard  I.  is  represented  in  one  on  his  second 
great  seal.  A  still  later  fashion  is  seen  in  the  next  woodcut,  p.  334. 
William  Longespee,  a.d.  1227,  has  a  flat-topped  helmet. 

The  only  two  inventions  of  the  time  seem  to  be,  first,  the  surcoat,  which 
began  to  be  worn  over  the  hauberk  about  the  end  of  the  twelfth  century. 
The  seal  of  King  John  is  the  first  of  the  series  of  great  seals  in  which  we 
see  it  introduced.     It  seems  to  have  been  of  linen  or  silk. 

The  other  great  invention  of  this  period  was  that  of  armorial  bearings, 
properly  so  called.  Devices  painted  upon  the  shield  were  common  in 
classical  times.  They  are  found  ordinarily  on  the  shields  in  the  Bayeux 
tapestry,  and  were  habitually  used  by  the  Norman  knights.  In  the  Bayeux 
tapestry  they  seem  to  be  fanciful  or  merely  decorative ;  later  they  were  sym- 
bolical or  significant.  But  it  was  only  towards  the  close  of  the  twelfth 
century  that  each  knight  assumed  a  fixed  device,  which  was  exclusively 
appropriated  to  him,  by  which  he  was  known,  and  which  became  hereditary 
in  his  family. 

The  offensive  weapons  used  by  the  knights  were  most  commonly  the 
sword  and  spear.  The  axe  and  mace  are  found,  but  rareiy.  The  artillery 
consisted  of  the  crossbow,  which  was  the  most  formidable  missile  in  use, 
and  the  long  bow,  which,  however,  was  not  yet  the  great  arm  of  the 
English  yeomanry  which  it  became  at  a  later  period ;  but  these  were  hardly 
the  weapons  of  knights  and  gentlemen,  though  men-at-arms  were  frequently 
armed  with  the  crossbow,  and  archers  were  occasionally  mounted.  The 
sling  was  sometimes  used,  as  were  other  very  rude  weapons,  by  the  half- 
armed  crowd  who  were  often  included  in  the  ranks  of  mediaeval  armies. 

We  have  said  that  there  is  a  great  scarcity  of  pictorial  representations 
of  the  military  costume  of  the  thirteenth  century,  and  of  the  few  which 
exist  the  majority  are  so  vague  in  their  definition  of  details,  that  they  add 
nothing  to  our  knowledge  of  costume,  and  have  so  little  of  dramatic 
character,  as  to  throw  no  light  on  manners  and  customs.     Among  the  best 

33%  The  Knights  of  the  Middle  Ages. 

are  some  knightly  figures  in  the  Harleian  Roll,  folio  6,  which  contains  a 
life  of  St.  Guthlac  of  about  the  end  of  the  twelfth  century.  The  figures  are 
armed  in  short-sleeved  and  hooded  hauberk ;  flat-topped  iron  helmet,  some 
with,  some  without,  the  nasal ;  heater-shaped  shield  and  spear ;  the  legs 
undefended,  except  by  boots  like  those  of  the  Goliath  on  p.  322. 

The  Harleian  MS.  4,751,  a  MS.  of  the  beginning  of  the  thirteenth  cen- 
tury, shows  at  folio  8  a  group  of  soldiers  attacking  a  fortification ;  it  con- 
tains hints  enough  to  make  one  earnestly  desire  that  the  subject  had 
been  more  fully  and  artistically  worked  out.  The  fortification  is  repre- 
sented by  a  timber  projection  carried  on  brackets  from  the  face  of  the 
wall.  Its  garrison  is  represented  by  a  single  knight,  whose  demi-figure 
only  is  seen ;  he  is  represented  in  a  short-sleeved  hauberk,  with  a  surcoat 
over  it  having  a  cross  on  the  breast.  He  wears  a  flat- topped  cylindrical 
helmet,  and  is  armed  with  a  crossbow.  The  assailants  would  seem  to  be  a 
rabble  of  half-armed  men  ;  one  is  bareheaded,  and  armed  only  with  a 
sling ;  others  have  round  hats,  whether  of  felt  or  iron  does  not  appear ; 
one  is  armed  in  a  hooded  hauberk  and  carries  an  axe,  and  a  cylindrical 
helmet  also  appears  amidst  the  crowd. 

In  the  Harleian  MS.  5,102,  of  the  beginning  of  the  thirteenth  century, 
at  folio  32,  there  is  a  representation  of  the  martyrdom  of  St.  Thomas  of 
Canterbury,  which  gives  us  the  effigies  of  the  three  murderers  in  knightly 
costume.  They  all  wear  long-sleeved  hauberks,  which  have  the  peculiarity 
of  being  slightly  slit  up  the  sides,  and  the  tunic  flows  from  beneath  them. 
Fitzurse  (known  by  the  bear  on  his  shield)  has  leg  defences  fastened 
behind,  like  those  in  our  next  woodcut,  p.  334,  and  a  circular  iron  helmet. 
One  of  the  others  wears  a  flat-topped  helmet,  and  the  third  has  the  hood 
of  mail  fastened  on  the  cheek,  like  that  in  the  same  woodcut.  The 
drawing  is  inartistic,  and  the  picture  of  little  value  for  our  present  purposes. 

The  Harleian  MS.  3,244  contains  several  MSS.  bound  together.  The 
second  of  these  works  is  a  Penitential,  which  has  a  knightly  figure  on 
horseback  for  its  frontispiece.  It  has  an  allegorical  meaning,  and  is  rather 
curious.  The  inscription  over  the  figure  is  Milicia  est  vita  hominis  super 
terrain.  (The  life  of  man  upon  the  earth  is  a  warfare.)  The  knightly 
figure  represents  the  Christian  man  in  the  spiritual  panoply  ol  this  warfare ; 

Thirteenth  Century  Armour.  333 

and  the  various  items  of  armour  and  arms  have  inscriptions  affixed  to  tell 
us  what  they  are.  Thus  over  the  helmet  is  Spes  futuri  gaudii  (For  a 
helmet  the  hope  of  salvation) ;  his  sword  is  inscribed,  Verbum  di;  his 
spear,  Persevancia ;  its  pennon,  Regni  ae/esti  desiderium,  &c.  &c.  The 
shield  is  charged  with  the  well-known  triangular  device,  with  the  enuncia- 
tion of  the  doctrine  of  the  Trinity,  Pater  est  Deus,  &c,  Pater  non  est 
Filius,  &c.  The  knight  is  clad  in  hauberk,  with  a  rather  long  flowing  sur- 
coat ;  a  helmet,  in  general  shape  like  that  in  the  next  woodcut,  but  not 
so  ornamental ;  he  has  chausses  of  mail ;  shield,  sword,  and  spear  with 
pennon,  and  prick  spurs ;  but  there  is  not  sufficient  definiteness  in  the 
details,  or  character  in  the  drawing,  to  make  it  worth  while  to  reproduce 
it.  But  there  is  one  MS.  picture  which  fully  atones  for  the  absence  of 
others  by  its  very  great  merit.  It  occurs  in  a  small  quarto  of  the  last 
quarter  of  the  thirteenth  century,  which  contains  the  Psalter  and  Eccle- 
siastical Hymns.  Towards  the  end  of  the  book  are  several  remarkably 
fine  full-page  drawings,  done  in  outline  with  a  pen,  and  partially  tinted 
with  colour ;  large,  distinct,  and  done  with  great  spirit  and  artistic  skill. 
The  first  on  the  verso  of  folio  2 1 8  is  a  king ;  on  the  opposite  page  is  the 
knight,  who  is  here  given  on  a  reduced  scale ;  on  the  opposite  side  of  the 
page  is  St.  Christopher,  and  on  the  next  page  an  archbishop. 

The  figure  of  the  knight  before  us  shows  very  clearly  the  various  details 
of  a  suit  of  thirteenth-century  armour.  In  the  hauberk  will  be  noticed 
the  mode  in  which  the  hood  is  fastened  at  the  side  of  the  head,  and  the 
way  in  which  the  sleeves  are  continued  into  gauntlets,  whose  palms  are 
left  free  from  rings,  so  as  to  give  a  firmer  grasp.  The  thighs,  it  will  be 
seen,  are  protected  by  haut-de-chausses,  which  are  mailed  only  in  the 
exposed  parts,  and  not  on  the  seat.  The  legs  have  chausses  of  a  different 
kind  of  armour.  In  the  MS.  drawings  we  often  find  various  parts  of  the 
armour  thus  represented  in  different  ways,  and,  as  we  have  already  said,  we 
are  sometimes  tempted  to  think  the  unskilful  artist  has  only  used  different 
modes  of  representing  the  same  kind  of  mail.  But  here  the  drawing  is  so 
careful,  and  skilful,  and  self-evidently  accurate,  that  we  cannot  doubt 
that  the  defence  of  the  legs  is  really  of  a  different  kind  of  armour  from  the 
mail  of  the  hauberk  and  haut-de-chausses.  The  surcoat  is  of  graceful  fashion, 


The  Knights  of  the  Middle  Ages. 

and  embroidered  with  crosses,  which  appear  also  on  the  pennon,  and  one 
of  them  is  used  as  an  ornamental  genouilliere  on  the  shoulder.  The  helmet 
is  elaborately  and  very  elegantly  ornamented.  The  attitude  of  the  figure 
is  spirited  and  dignified,  and  the  drawing  unusually  good.  Altogether  we 
do  not  know  a  finer  representation  of  a  knight  of  this  century. 

Knight  of  the  latter  fart  of  the  Thirteenth  Century. 

A  few,  but  very  valuable,  authorities  are  to  be  found  in  the  sculptural 
monumental  effigies  of  this  period.  The  best  of  them  will  be  found  in 
Stothard's  "Monumental  Effigies,"  and  his  work  not  only  brings  these 
examples  together,  and  makes  them  easily  accessible  to  the  student,  but  it 
has  this  great  advantage,  that  Stothard  well  understood  his  subject,  and 
gives  every  detail  with  the  most  minute  accuracy,  and  also  elucidates 
obscure  points  of  detail.     Those  in  the  Temple  Church,  that  of  William 

Thirteenth  Century  Arms  and  Armour. 


Longespee  in  Salisbury  Cathedral,  and  that  of  Aymer  de  Valence  in  West- 
minster Abbey,  are  the  most  important  of  the  series.  Perhaps,  after  all, 
the  only  important  light  they  add  to  that  already  obtained  from  the  MSS. 
is,  they  help  us  to  understand  the  fabrication  of  the  mail-armour,  by  giving 
it  in  fac-simile  relief.  There  are  also  a  few  foreign  MSS.,  easily  accessible, 
in  the  library  of  the  British  Museum,  which  the  artist  student  will  do  well 
to  consult ;  but  he  must  remember  that 
some  of  the  peculiarities  of  costume 
which  he  will  find  there  are  foreign 
fashions,  and  are  not  to  be  introduced 
in  English  subjects.  For  example,  the 
MS.  Cotton,  Nero,  c  iv.,  is  a  French  MS. 
of  about  1 1 25  A.D.,  which  contains  some 
rather  good  drawings  of  military  subjects. 
The  Additional  MS.  14,789,  of  German 
execution,  written  in  n  28  a.d.,  contains 
military  subjects ;  among  them  is  a  figure 
of  Goliath,  in  which  the  Philistine  has  a 
hauberk  of  chain  mail,  and  chausses  of 
jazerant  work,  like  the  knight  in  the  last 
woodcut.  The  Royal  MS.  20  D.  L,  is  a 
French  MS.,  very  full  of  valuable  military 
drawings,  executed  probably  at  the  close 
of  the  thirteenth  century,  belonging, 
however,  in  the  style  of  its  Art  and 
costume,  rather  to  the  early  part  of  the 
next  period  than  to  that  under  con- 
sideration. The  MS.  AddiL  17,687, 
contains  fine  and  valuable  German  drawings,  full  of  military  authorities,  of 
about  the  same  period  as  the  French  MS.  last  mentioned 

The  accompanying  wood-cut  represents  various  peculiarities  of  the 
armour  in  use  towards  the  close  of  the  thirteenth  century.  It  is  taken 
from  the  Sloane  MS.  346,  which  is  a  metrical  Bible.  In  the  original 
drawing  a  female  figure  is  kneeling  before  the  warrior,  and  there  is  an 

Knight  and  Afen-at-Arms  of  the  end  of 
the  Thirteenth  Century. 


The  Knights  of  the  Middle  Ages. 

inscription  over  the  picture,  Abygail  placet  iram  regis  David  (Abigail 
appeases  the  anger  of  King  David).  So  that  this  group  of  a  thirteenth- 
century  knight  and  his  men-at-arms  is  intended  by  the  mediaeval  artist  to 
represent  David  and  his  followers  on  the  march  to  revenge  the  churlishness 
of  Nabal.  The  reader  will  notice  the  round  plates  at  the  elbows  and 
knees,  which  are  the  first  visible  introduction  of  plate  armour — breast- 
plates, worn  under  the  hauberk,  had  been  occasionally  used  from  Saxon 
times.  He  will  observe,  too,  the  leather  gauntlets  which  David  wears, 
and  the  curious  defences  for  the  shoulders  called  ailettes :  also  that  the 
shield  is  hung  round  the  neck  by  its  strap  (guige),  and  the  sword-belt 
round  the  hips,  while  the  surcoat  is  girded  round  the  waist  by  a  silken 

Knight  of  the  end  of  the  Thirteenth  Century. 

cord.  The  group  is  also  valuable  for  giving  us  at  a  glance  three  different 
fashions  of  helmet.  David  has  a  conical  bascinet,  with  a  movable  visor. 
The  man  immediately  behind  him  wears  an  iron  hat,  with  a  wide  rim  and 
a  raised  crest,  which  is  not  at  all  unusual  at  this  period.  The  other  two 
men  wear  the  globular  helmet,  the  most  common  head-defence  of  the  time. 
The  next  cut  is  a  spirited  little  sketch  of  a  mounted  knight,  from  the 
same  MS.  The  horse,  it  may  be  admitted,  is  very  like  those  which 
children  draw  nowadays,  but  it  has  more  life  in  it  than  most  of  the  draw- 
ings of  that  day ;  and  the  way  in  which  the  knight  sits  his  horse  is  much 

Thirteenth  Century  Arms  and  Armour,  337 

more  artistic.  The  picture  shows  the  equipment  of  the  knight  very  clearly, 
and  it  is  specially  valuable  as  an  early  example  of  horse  trappings,  and  as 
an  authority  for  the  shape  of  the  saddle,  with  its  high  pommel  and  croupe 
The  inscrption  over  the  picture  is,  Tharbis  defendit  urban  Sabea  ab  impug- 
nanti  Moysi;  and  over  the  head  of  this  cavalier  is  his  name  Moysa — 
Moses,  as  a  knight  of  the  end  of  the  thirteenth  century  ! 



N  arriving  at  the  fourteenth  century,  we  have  reached  the  very 
heart  of  our  subject.  For  this  century  was  the  period  of  the 
great  national  wars  with  France  and  Scotland  ;  it  was  the  time 
when  the  mercenaries  raised  in  the  Italian  wars  first  learnt,  and  then  taught 
the  world,  the  trade  of  soldier  and  trained  their  captains  in  the  art  of  war; 
it  was  the  period  when  the  romantic  exploits  and  picturesque  trappings  of 
chivalry  were  in  their  greatest  vogue  ;  the  period  when  Gothic  art  was  at 
its  highest  point  of  excellence.  It  was  a  period,  too,  of  which  we  have 
ample  knowledge  from  public  records  and  serious  histories,  from  romance 
writers  in  poetry  and  prose,  from  Chaucer  and  Froissart,  from  MS.  illu- 
minations and  monumental  effigies.  Our  difficulty  amid  such  a  profusion 
of  material  is  to  select  that  which  will  be  most  serviceable  to  our  special 

Let  us  begin  with  some  detailed  account  of  the  different  kinds  and 
fashions  of  armour  and  equipment.  In  the  preceding  period,  it  has  been 
seen,  the  most  approved  knightly  armour  was  of  mail.  The  characteristic 
feature  of  the  armour  of  the  fourteenth  century  is  the  intermixture  of  mail 
and  plate.  We  see  it  first  in  small  supplementary  defences  of  plate  intro- 
duced to  protect  the  elbow  and  knee-joints.  Probably  it  was  found  that 
the  rather  heavy  and  unpliable  sleeve  and  hose  of  mail  pressed  incon- 
veniently upon  these  joints  ;  therefore  the  armourer  adopted  the  expedient 
which  proved  to  be  the  "  thin  end  of  the  wedge  "  which  gradually  brought 
plate  armour  into  fashion.  He  cut  the  mail  hose  in  two ;  the  lower  part, 
which  was  then  like  a  modern  stocking,  protected  the  leg,  and  the  upper 

Introduction  of  Plate  Armour. 


part  protected  the  thigh,  each  being  independently  fastened  below  and 
above  the  knee,  leaving  the  knee  unprotected.  Then  he  hollowed  a  piece 
of  plate  iron  so  as  to  form  a  cap  for  the  knee,  called  technically  a 
genoutilierc,  within  which  the  joint  could  work  freely  without  chafing  or 
pressure  ;  perhaps  it  was  padded  or  stuffed  so  as  to  deaden  the  effect  of  a 
blow ;  and  it  was  fashioned  so  as  effectually  to  cover  all  the  part  left  un- 
defended by  the  mail.    The  sleeve  of  the  hauberk  was  cut  in  the  same 

Men-at-Arms,  Fourteenth  Century. 

way,  and  the  elbow  was  defended  by  a  cap  of  plate-iron  called  a  coudibrt. 
Early  examples  of  these  two  pieces  of  plate  armour  will  be  seen  in  the 
later  illustrations  of  our  last  chapter,  for  they  were  introduced  a  iittle 
before  the  end  of  the  thirteenth  century.  The  two  pieces  of  plate  were 
introduced  simultaneously,  and  they  appear  together  in  the  woodcut  of 
David  and  his  men  in  our  last  chapter ;  but  we  often  find  the  genouilliere 
used  while  the  arm  is  still  defended  only  by  the  sleeve  of  the  hauberk,  as 

34<^>  The  Knights  of  the  Middle  Ages. 

in  the  first  woodcut  in  the  present  chapter,  and  again  in  the  cut  on  p.  348. 
It  is  easy  to  see  that  the  pressure  of  the  chausses  of  mail  upon  the  knee  in 
riding  would  be  constant  and  considerable,  and  a  much  more  serious 
inconvenience  than  the  pressure  upon  the  elbow  in  the  usaal  attitude  of 
the  arm. 

Next,  round  plates  of  metal,  called  placates  or  roundels,  were  applied  to 
shield  the  armpits  from  a  thrust ;  and  sometimes  they  were  used  also  at  the 
elbow  to  protect  the  inner  side  of  the  joint  where,  for  the  convenience  of 
motion,  it  was  destitute  of  armour.  An  example  of  a  roundel  at  the 
shoulder  will  be  seen  in  one  of  the  men-at-arms  in  the  woodcut  on  p.  339. 
Another  curious  fashion  which  very  generally  prevailed  at  this  time — that  is, 
at  the  close  of  the  thirteenth  and  beginning  of  the  fourteenth  century — was 
the  ailette.  It  was  a  thin,  oblong  plate  of  metal,  which  was  attached  behind 
the  shoulder.  It  would  to  some  extent  deaden  the  force  of  a  blow  directed 
at  the  neck,  but  it  would  afford  so  inartificial  and  ineffective  a  defence, 
that  it  is  difficult  to  believe  it  was  intended  for  anything  more  than  an 
ornament.     It  is  worn  by  the  foremost  knight  in  the  cut  on  p.  335. 

Perhaps  the  next  great  improvement  was  to  protect  the  foot  by  a  shoe 
made  of  plates  of  iron  overlapping,  like  the  shell  of  a  lobster,  the  sole 
being  still  of  leather.  Then  plates  of  iron,  made  to  fit  the  limb,  were 
applied  to  the  shin  and  the  upper  part  of  the  forearm,  and  sometimes  a 
small  plate  is  applied  to  the  upper  part  of  the  arm  in  the  place  most 
exposed  to  a  blow.  Then  the  shin  and  forearm  defences  were  enlarged  so 
as  to  enclose  the  limb  completely,  opening  at  the  side  with  a  hinge,  and 
closing  with  straps  or  rivets.  Then  the  thigh  and  the  upper  arm  were 
similarly  enclosed  in  plate. 

It  is  a  little  difficult  to  trace  exactly  the  changes  which  took  place  in  the 
body  defences,  because  all  through  this  period  it  was  the  fashion  to  wear  a 
surcoat  of  some  kind,  which  usually  conceals  all  that  was  worn  beneath  it. 
It  is  however  probable  that  at  an  early  period  of  the  introduction  of  plate 
a  breastplate  was  introduced,  which  was  worn  over  the  hauberk,  and 
perhaps  fastened  to  it.  Then,  it  would  seem,  a  back  plate  was  added  also, 
worn  over  the  hauberk.  Next,  the  breast  and  back  plate  were  made  to 
enclose  the  whole  of  the  upper  part  of  the  body,  while  only  a  skirt  of  mail 

Armour  of  Mixed  Mail  and  Plate.  34 1 

remained ;  i.e.  a  garment  of  the  same  shape  as  the  hauberk  was  worn,  un- 
protected with  mail,  where  the  breast  and  back  plate  would  come  upon  it, 
but  still  having  its  skirt  covered  with  rings.  In  an  illumination  in  the  MS., 
is  a  picture  of  a  knight  putting  off  his  jupon,  in  which  the  "  pair  of  plates," 
as  Chaucer  calls  them  in  a  quotation  hereafter  given,  is  seen,  tinted  blue 
(steel  colour),  with  a  skirt  of  mail.  At  this  time  the  helmet  had  a  fringe 
of  mail,  called  the  camail,  attached  to  its  lower  margin,  which  fell  over  the 
body  armour,  and  defended  the  neck.  It  is  clearly  seen  in  the  hindermost 
knight  of  the  group  in  the  woodcut  on  p.  339,  and  in  the  effigy  of  John  of 
Eltham,  on  p.  342. 

It  is  not  difficult  to  see  the  superiority  of  defence  which  plate  afforded 
over  mail.  The  edge  of  sword  or  axe  would  bite  upon  the  mail ;  if  the 
rings  were  unbroken,  still  the  blow  would  be  likely  to  bruise  ;  and  in 
romances  it  is  common  enough  to  hear  of  huge  cantles  of  mail  being  hewn 
out  by  their  blows,  and  the  doughty  champions  being  spent  with  loss  ot 
blood.  But  many  a  blow  would  glance  off  quite  harmless  from  the  curved 
and  polished,  and  well-tempered  surface  of  plate  ;  so  that  it  would  probably 
require  not  only  a  more  dexterous  blow  to  make  the  edge  of  the  weapon 
bite  at  all  on  the  plate,  but  also  a  harder  blow  to  cut  into  it  so  as  to  wound. 
In  "  Prince  Arthur  "  we  read  of  Sir  Tristram  and  Sir  Governale — "  they 
avoided  their  horses,  and  put  their  shields  before  them,  and  they  strake 
together  with  bright  swords  like  men  that  were  of  might,  and  either 
wounded  other  wondrous  sore,  so  that  the  blood  ran  upon  the  grass,  and 
of  their  harness  they  had  hewed  off  many  pieces."  And  again,  in  a  com- 
bat between  Sir  Tristram  and  Sir  Elias,  after  a  course  in  which  "  either 
smote  other  so  hard  that  both  horses  and  knights  went  to  the  earth,"  "  they 
both  lightly  rose  up  and  dressed  their  shields  on  their  shoulders,  with 
naked  swords  in  their  hands,  and  they  dashed  together  like  as  there  had 
been  a  flaming  fire  about  them.  Thus  they  traced  and  traversed,  and 
hewed  on  helms  and  hauberks,  and  cut  away  many  pieces  and  cantles  of 
their  shields,  and  either  wounded  other  passingly  sore,  so  that  the  hot 
blood  fell  fresh  upon  the  earth." 

We  have  said  that  a  surcoat  of  some  kind  was  worn  throughout  this 
period,  but  it  differed  in  shape  at  different  times,  and  had  different  names 


The  Knights  of  the  Middle  Ages. 

applied  to  it.  In  the  early  part  of  the  time  of  which  we  are  now  speak- 
ing, i.e.  when  the  innovation  of  plate  armour  was  beginning,  the  loose 
and  flowing  surcoat  of  the  thirteenth  century  was  still  used,  and  is  very 
clearly  seen  in  the  nearest  of  the  group  of  knights  in  woodcut  on  p.  339.  It 
was  usually  of  linen  or  silk,  sleeveless,  reached  halfway  between  the  knee 
and  ankle,  was  left  unstiffened  to  fall  in  loose  folds, 
except  that  it  was  girt  by  a  silk  cord  round  the 
waist,  and  its  skirts  flutter  behind  as  the  wearer 
gallops  on  through  the  air.  The  change  of  taste 
was  in  the  direction  of  shortening  the  skirts  of  the 
surcoat,  and  making  it  scantier  about  the  body, 
and  stiffening  it  so  as  to  make  it  fit  the  person  with- 
out folds  ;  at  last  it  was  tightly  fitted  to  the  breast 
and  back  plate,  and  showed  their  outline;  and  it 
was  not  uncommonly  covered  with  embroidery, 
often  of  the  armorial  bearings  of  the  wearer.  The 
former  garment  is  properly  called  a  surcoat,  and 
the  latter  a  j upon;  the  one  is  characteristic  of  the 
greater  part  of  the  thirteenth  century,  the  latter  of 
the  greater  part  of  the  fourteenth.  But  the  fashion 
did  not  change  suddenly  from  the  one  to  the  other ; 
there  was  a  transitional  phase  called  the  cyclas, 
which  may  be  briefly  described.  The  cyclas  opened 
up  the  sides  instead  of  in  front,  and  it  had  this 
curious  peculiarity,  that  the  front  skirt  was  cut 
much  shorter  than  the  hind  skirt— behind  it 
reached  to  the  knees,  but  in  front  not  very  much  below  the  hips.  The 
fashion  has  this  advantage  for  antiquarians,  that  the  shortness  of  the 
front  skirt  allows  us  to  see  a  whole  series  of  military  garments  beneath, 
which  are  hidden  by  the  long  surcoat  and  even  by  the  shorter  jupon,  A 
suit  of  armour  of  this  period  is  represented  in  the  Roman  d' Alexandre 
(Bodleian  Library),  at  folio  143  v.,  and  elsewhere  in  the  MS.  The  re- 
mainder of  the  few  examples  of  the  cyclas  which  remain,  and  which, 
so  tar  as  our  observation  extends,  are  all  in  sepulchral  monuments,  range 

Fourteenth  Century  Armour.  343 

between  the  years  1325  and  1335,  the  shortening  of  the  cyclas  enables 
us  to  see.  We  have  chosen  for  our  illustration  the  sepulchral  effigy 
in  Westminster  Abbey  of  John  of  Eltham,  the  second  son  of  King 
Edward  II.,  who  died  in  1334.  Here  we  see  first  and  lowest  the 
hacqueton ;  then  the  hauberk  of  chain  mail,  slightly  pointed  in  front, 
which  was  one  of  the  fashions  of  the  time,  as  we  see  it  also  in  the  monu- 
mental brasses  of  Sir  John  de  Creke,  at  Westley- Waterless,  Cambridge- 
shire, and  of  Sir  J.  D'Aubernoun,  the  younger,  at  Stoke  D'Abernon, 
Surrey ;  over  the  hauberk  we  see  the  ornap^-M^ted  gambeson ;  and  over  all 
the  cyclas.  It  is  a  question  whether  knights  generally  wore  this  whole 
series  of  defences,  but  the  monumental  effigies  are  usually  so  accurate  in 
their  representations  of  actual  costume,  that  we  must  conclude  that  at 
least  on  occasions  of  state  solemnity  they  were  all  worn.  In  the  illustra- 
tion it  will  be  seen  that  the  cyclas  is  confined,  not  by  a  silk  cord,  but  by  a 
narrow  belt,  while  the  sword-belt  of  the  thirteenth  century  is  still  worn  in 
addition.  The  jupon  is  seen  in  the  two  knights  tilting,  in  the  woodcut  on  p. 
348.  In  the  knight  on  the  left  will  be  seen  how  it  fits  tightly,  and  takes  the 
globular  shape  of  the  breastplate.  It  will  be  noticed  that  on  this  knight 
the  skirt  of  the  jupon  is  scalloped,  on  the  other  it  is  plain.  The  jupon 
was  not  girded  with  a  silk  cord  or  a  narrow  belt ;  it  was  made  to  fit  tight 
without  any  such  fastening.  The  sword-belt  worn  with  it  differs  in  two 
important  respects  from  that  worn  previously.  It  does  not  fall  diagonally 
across  the  person,  but  horizontally  over  the  hips ;  and  it  is  not  merely  a 
leather  belt  ornamented,  but  the  leather  foundation  is  completely  con- 
cealed by  plates  of  metal  in  high  relief,  chased,  gilt,  and  filled  with  enamels, 
forming  a  gorgeous  decoration.  The  general  form  will  be  seen  in  the 
woodcut  on  p.  350,  but  its  elaboration  and  splendour  are  better  understood 
on  an  examination  of  some  of  the  sculptured  effigies,  in  which  the  forms 
of  the  metal  plates  are  preserved  in  facsimile,  with  traces  of  their  gilding 
and  colour  still  remaining. 

It  would  be  easy,  from  the  series  of  sculptured  effigies  in  relief  and 
monumental  brasses,  to  give  a  complete  chronological  view  of  these  various 
changes  which  were  continually  progressing  throughout  the  fourteenth  cen- 
tury.    But  this  has  already  been  done  in  the  very  accessible  works  by 

344  The  Knights  of  the  Middle  Ages. 

Stothard,  the  Messrs.  Waller,  Mr.  Boutell,  and  Mr.  Haines,  especially 
devoted  to  monumental  effigies  and  brasses.  It  will  be  more  in  accord- 
ance with  the  plan  we  have  laid  down  for  ourselves,  if  we  take  from  the 
less  known  illuminations  of  MSS.  some  subjects  which  will  perhaps  be 
less  clear  and  fine  in  detail,  but  will  have  more  life  and  character  than  the 
formal  monumental  effigies. 

We  must,  however,  pause  to  mention  some  other  kinds  of  armour 
which  were  sometimes  used  in  place  of  armour  of  steel.  And  first  we 
may  mention  leather.  Leather  was  always  more  or  less  used  as  a 
cheap  kind  of  defence,  from  the  Saxon  leather  tunic  with  the  hair  left 
on  it,  down  to  the  buff  jerkin  of  the  time  of  the  Commonwealth,  and 
even  to  the  thick  leather  gauntlets  and  jack  boots  of  the  present  Life 
Guardsman.  But  at  the  time  of  which  we  are  speaking  pieces  of  armour 
of  the  same  shape  as  those  we  have  been  describing  were  sometimes  made, 
for  the  sake  of  lightness,  of  cuir  bouilli  instead  of  metal.  Cuir  bouilli  was, 
as  its  name  implies,  leather  which  was  treated  with  hot  water,  in  such  a 
way  as  to  make  it  assume  a  required  shape;  and  often  it  was  also  im- 
pressed, while  soft,  with  ornamental  devices.  It  is  easy  to  see  that  in  this 
way  armour  might  be  made  possessing  great  comparative  lightness,  and  yet 
a  certain  degree  of  strength,  and  capable,  by  stamping,  colouring,  and 
gilding,  of  a  high  degree  of  ornamentation.  It  was  a  kind  of  armour 
very  suitable  for  occasions  of  mere  ceremonial,  and  it  was  adopted  in 
actual  combat  for  parts  of  the  body  less  exposed  to  injury ;  for  instance,  it 
seems  to  be  especially  used  for  the  defence  of  the  lower  half  of  the  legs. 
We  shall  find  presently,  in  the  description  of  Chaucer's  Sire  Thopas,  the 
knight  adventurous,  that  "  his  jambeux  were  of  cuirbouly."  In  external 
form  and  appearance  it  would  be  so  exactly  like  metal  armour  that  it  may 
be  represented  in  some  of  the  ornamental  effigies  and  MSS.  drawings, 
where  it  has  the  appearance  of,  and  is  usually  assumed  to  be,  metal 
armour.  Another  form  of  armour,  of  which  we  often  meet  with  examples 
in  drawings  and  effigies,  is  one  in  which  the  piece  of  armour  appears  to  be 
studded,  at  more  or  less  distant  regular  intervals,  with  small  round  plates. 
There  are  two  suggestions  as  to  the  kind  of  armour  intended.  One  is, 
that  the  armour  thus  represented  was  a  garment  of  cloth,  silk,  velvet,  or 

Fourteenth  Centmy  Armour.  345 

other  textile  material,  lined  with  plates  of  metal,  which  are  fastened  to  the 
garment  with  metal  rivets,  and  that  the  heads  of  these  rivets,  gilt  and  orna- 
mented, were  allowed  to  be  seen  powdering  the  coloured  face  of  the  gar- 
ment by  way  of  ornament.  Another  suggestion  is  that  the  garment  was 
merely  one  of  the  padded  and  quilted  armours  which  we  shall  have  next 
to  describe,  in  which,  as  an  additional  precaution,  metal  studs  were  intro- 
duced, much  as  an  oak  door  is  studded  with  iron  bolts.  An  example  of  it 
will  be  seen  in  the  armour  of  the  forearms  of  King  Meliadus  in  the  wood- 
cut on  p.  350.  Chaucer  seems  to  speak  of  this  kind  of  defence,  in  his 
description  of  Lycurgus  at  the  great  tournament  in  the  "  Knight's  Tale," 
under  the  name  of  coat  armour : — 

"  Instede  of  cote-armure  on  his  hamais, 
With  nayles  yelwe  and  bryght  as  any  gold, 
He  had  a  here's  skin  cole-blake  for  old." 

Next  we  come  to  the  rather  large  and  important  series  of  quilted 
defences.  We  find  the  names  of  the  gambeson,  hacqueton,  and  pourpoint,  and 
sometimes  the  jacke.  It  is  a  little  difficult  to  distinguish  one  from  the 
other  in  the  descriptions  ;  and  in  fact  they  appear  to  have  greatly  resem- 
bled one  another,  and  the  names  seem  often  to  have  been  used  inter- 
changeably. The  gambeson  was  a  sleeved  tunic  of  stout  coarse  linen, 
stuffed  with  flax  and  other  common  material,  and  sewn  longitudinally.  The 
hacqueton  was  a  similar  garment,  only  made  of  buckram,  and  stuffed  with 
cotton ;  stiff  from  its  material,  but  not  so  thick  and  clumsy  as  the  gam- 
beson. The  pourpoint  was  very  like  the  hacqueton,  only  that  it  was  made  of 
finer  material,  faced  with  silk,  and  stitched  in  ornamental  patterns.  The 
gambeson  and  hacqueton  were  worn  under  the  armour,  partly  to  relieve  its 
pressure  upon  the  body,  partly  to  afford  an  additional  defence.  Sometimes 
they  were  worn,  especially  by  the  common  soldiers,  without  any  other 
armour.  The  pourpoint  was  worn  over  the  hauberk,  but  sometimes  it  was 
worn  alone,  the  hauberk  being  omitted  for  the  sake  of  lightness.  The 
jacke,  or  jacque,  was  a  tunic  of  stuffed  leather,  and  was  usually  worn  by 
the  common  soldiers  without  other  armour,  but  sometimes  as  light  armour 
by  knights. 

In  the  first  wood-cut  on  the  next  page,  from  the  Romance  of  King 


The  Knights  of  the  Middle  Ages. 

Meliadus,  we  have  a  figure  which  appears  to  be  habited  in  one  of  these 
quilted  armours,  perhaps  the  hacqueton.  There  is  another  figure  in  the 
same  group,  in  a  similar  dress,  with  this  difference — in  the  first  the  skirt 
seems  to  fall  loose  and  light,  in  the  second  the  skirt  seems  to  be  stuffed 
and  quilted  like  the  body  of  the  garment.  At  folio  2 14  of  the  same  Romance 
is  a  squire,  attendant  upon  a  knight-errant,  who  is  habited  in  a  similar 

Squire  in  Hacqueton, 

Sir  Robert  Shurland. 

hacqueton  to  that  we  have  represented ;  the  squires  throughout  the  MS.  are 
usually  quite  unarmed.  In  the  monumental  effigy  of  Sir  Robert  Shurland, 
who  was  made  a  knight-banneret  in  1300,  we  seem  to  have  a  curious 
and  probably  unique  effigy  of  a  knight  in  the  gameson.  We  give  a  wood- 
cut of  it,  reduced  from  Stothard's  engraving.  The  smaller  figure  of  the 
man  placed  at  the  feet  of  the  effigy  is  in  the  same  costume,  and  affords 
us  an  additional  example.     Stothard  conjectures  that  the  garment  in  the 

Fourteenth  Ceyitury  Armour.  347 

effigy  of  John  of  Eltham  (1334,  a.d.),  whose  vandyked  border  appears 
beneath  his  hauberk,  is  the  buckram  of  the  hacqueton  left  unstuffed,  and 
ornamentally  scalloped  round  the  border.  In  the  MS.  of  King  Meliadus, 
at  f.  si,  and  again  on  the  other  side  of  the  leaf,  is  a  knight,  whose  red 
jupon,  slit  up  at  the  sides,  is  thrown  open  by  his  attitude,  so  that  we  see 
the  skirt  of  mail  beneath,  which  is  silvered  to  represent  metal ;  and  beneath 
that  is  a  scalloped  border  of  an  under  habit,  which  is  left  white,  and,  if 
Stothard's  conjecture  be  correct,  is  another  example  of  the  hacqueton  under 
the  hauberk.  But  the  best  representation  which  we  have  met  with  of  the 
quilted  armours  is  in  the  MS.  of  the  Romance  of  the  Rose  (Harleian,  4,425), 
at  folio  133,  where,  in  a  battle  scene,  one  knight  is  conspicuous  among 
the  blue  steel  and  red  and  green  jupons  of  the  other  knights  by  a  white 
body  armour  quilted  in  small  squares,  with  which  he  wears  a  steel  bascinet 
and  ringed  camail.     He  is  engraved  on  p.  389. 

And  now  to  turn  to  a  description  of  some  of  the  MS.  illuminations  which 
illustrate  this  chapter.  That  on  p.  339  is  a  charming  little  subject  from  a 
famous  MS.  (Royal  2  B.  vii.)  of  the  beginning  of  the  Edwardian  period, 
which  will  illustrate  half-a-dozen  objects  besides  the  mere  suit  of  knightly 
armour.  First  of  all  there  is  the  suit  of  armour  on  the  knight  in  the  fore- 
ground, the  hooded  hauberk  and  chausses  of  mail  and  genouillieres,  the 
chapeau  de  fer,  or  war  helm,  and  the  surcoat,  and  the  shield.  But  we  get 
also  a  variety  of  helmets,  different  kinds  of  weapons,  falchion  and  axe,  as 
well  as  sword  and  spear,  and  the  pennon  attached  to  the  spear ;  and,  in 
addition,  the  complete  horse  trappings,  with  the  ornamental  crest  which 
was  used  to  set  off  the  arching  neck  and  tossing  head.  Moreover,  we 
learn  that  this  variety  of  arms  and  armour  was  to  be  found  in  a  single 
troop  of  men-at-arms  ;  and  we  see  the  irregular  but  picturesque  effect 
which  such  a  group  presented  to  the  eyes  of  the  monkish  illuminator  as  it 
pranced  beneath  the  gateway  into  the  outer  court  of  the  abbey,  to  seek 
the  hospitality  which  the  hospitaller  would  hasten  to  offer  on  behalf  of  the 

This  mixture  of  armour  and  weapons  is  brought  before  us  by  Chaucer 
in  his  description  of  Palamon's  party  in  the  great  tournament  in  the 
"  Knight's  Tale  :"— 


The  Knights  of  the  Middle  Ages. 

"  And  right  so  ferden  they  with  Palamon, 
With  him  ther  wenten  knights  many  one, 
Som  wol  ben  armed  in  an  habergeon, 
And  in  a  brestplate  and  in  a  gipon  ; 
And  some  wol  have  a  pair  of  plates  large  ; 
And  some  wol  have  a  Pruee  shield  or  a  targe ; 
And  some  wol  ben  armed  on  his  legge's  wele, 
And  have  an  axe,  and  some  a  mace  of  stele, 
Ther  was  no  newe  guise  that  it  was  old, 
Armed  they  weren,  as  I  have  you  told, 
Everich  after  his  opinion." 

The  illustration  here  given  and  that  on  p.  350  are  from  a  MS.  which  we 
cannot  quote  for  the  first  time  without  calling  special  attention  to  it.  It  is  a 
MS.  of  one  of  the  numerous  romances  of  the  King  Arthur  cycle,  the  Romance 


of  the  King  Meliadus,  who  was  one  of  the  Companions  of  the  Round  Table. 
The  book  is  profusely  illustrated  with  pictures  which  are  invaluable  to  the 
student  of  military  costume  and  chivalric  customs.  They  are  by  different 
hands,  and  not  all  of  the  same  date,  the  earlier  series  being  probably 
about  1350,  the  later  perhaps  as  late  as  near  the  end  of  the  century.  In 
both  these  dates  the  MS.  gives  page  after  page  of  large-sized  pictures 
drawn  with  great  spirit,  and  illustrating  every  variety  of  incident  which 

Fourte-enth  Century  Armour.  349 

could  take  place  in  single  combat  and  in  tournament,  with  many  scenes 
of  civil  and  domestic  life  besides.  Especially  there  is  page  after  page  in 
which,  along  the  lower  portion  of  the  pages,  across  the  whole  width  of 
the  book,  there  are  pictures  of  tournaments.  There  is  a  gallery  of  spec- 
tators along  the  top,  and  in  some  of  these — especially  in  those  at  folio 
151  v.  and  152,  which  are  sketched  in  with  pen  and  ink,  and  left  uncoloured 
— there  are  more  of  character  and  artistic  drawing  than  the  artists  of  the 
time  are  usually  believed  to  have  possessed.  Beneath  this  gallery  is  a 
confused  mele'e  of  knights  in  the  very  thickest  throng  and  most  energetic 
action  of  a  tournament.  The  wood-cut  on  p.  348  represents  one  out  of  many 
incidents  of  a  single  combat  It  does  not  do  justice  to  the  drawing,  and 
looks  tame  for  want  of  the  colouring  of  the  original ;  but  it  will  serve  to 
show  the  armour  and  equipment  of  the  time.  The  victor  knight  is  habited 
in  a  hauberk  of  banded  mail,  with  gauntlets  of  plate,  and  the  legs  are 
cased  entirely  in  plate.  The  body  armour  is  covered  by.  a  jupon  ;  the  tilt- 
ing helmet  has  a  knight's  chapeau  and  draper}'  carrying  the  lion  crest.  The 
armour  in  the  illumination  is  silvered  to  represent  metal.  The  knight's 
jupon  is  red,  and  the  trappings  of  his  helmet  red,  with  a  golden  lion ;  his 
shield  bears  gules,  a  lion  rampant  argent ;  the  conquered  knight's  jupon  is 
blue,  his  shield  argent,  two  bandlets  gules.  We  see  here  the  way  in  which 
the  shield  was  carried,  and  the  long  slender  spear  couched,  in  the  charge. 

The  next  wood-cut  hardly  does  credit  to  the  charming  original.  It  repre- 
sents the  royal  knight-errant  himself  sitting  by  a  fountain,  talking  with  his 
squire.  The  suit  of  armour  is  beautiful,  and  the  face  of  the  knight  has 
much  character,  but  very  different  from  the  modem  conventional  type  of  a 
mediaeval  knight-errant.  His  armour  deserves  particular  examination.  He 
wears  a  hauberk  of  banded  mail ;  whether  he  wears  a  breastplate,  or  pair 
of  plates,  we  are  unable  to  see  for  the  jupon,  but  we  can  see  the  hauberk 
which  protects  the  throat  above  the  jupon,  and  the  skirt  of  it  where  the 
attitude  of  the  wearer  throws  the  skirt  of  the  jupon  open  at  the  side.  It 
will  be  seen  that  the  sleeves  of  the  hauberk  are  not  continued,  as  in  most 
examples,  over  the  hands,  or  even  down  to  the  wrist ;  but  the  forearm  is 
defended  by  studded  armour,  and  the  hands  by  gauntlets  which  are  pro- 
ably  of  plate.     The  leg  defences  are  admirably  exhibited ;   the  hose  of 


The  Knights  of  the  Middle  Ages. 

banded  mail,  the  knee  cap,  and  shin  pieces  of  plate,  and  the  boots  of  over- 
lapping plates.  The  helmet  also,  with  its  royal  crown  and  curious  double 
crest,  is  worth  notice.  In  the  original  drawing  the  whole  suit  of  armour  is 
brilliantly  executed.  The  armour  is  all  silvered  to  represent  steel,  the 
jupon  is  green,  the  military  belt  gold,  the  helmet  silvered,  with  its  drapery 

A  Knight -Errant. 

blue  powdered  with   gold  fleurs-de-lis,  and  its  crown,  and  the  fleur-de-lis 
which  tenninate  its  crest,  gold.     The  whole  dress  and  armour  of  a  knight 
of  the  latter  half  of  the  fourteenth  century  are  described  for  us  by  Chaucer 
in  a  few  stanzas  of  his  Rime  of  Sire  Thopas  : — 
"  He  didde*  next  his  white  lere 
Of  cloth  of  lake  fine  and  clere 
A  breche  and  eke  a  sherte ; 

•  Didde— did  on  next  his  white  skin. 

Fourteenth  Century  Armour.  35 1 

And  next  his  shert  an  haketon, 
And  over  that  an  habergeon, 
For  percing  of  his  herte. 

And  over  that  a  fine  hauberk, 
Was  all  ye  wrought  of  Jewes  werk, 

Full  strong  it  was  of  plate  ; 
And  over  that  his  coat  armoure, 
As  white  as  is  the  lily  floure, 

In  which  he  could  debate.* 

TTis  jambeux  were  of  cuirboury,t 
His  swerde's  sheth  of  ivory, 

His  helm  of  latoun  J  bright, 
His  sadel  was  of  rewel  bone, 
His  bridle  as  the  sonne  shone, 

Or  as  the  mone-light§ 

His  sheld  was  all  of  gold  so  red, 
And  therein  was  a  bore's  hed, 

A  charboncle  beside ; 
And  then  he  swore  on  ale  and  bred, 
How  that  the  geaunt  shuld  be  ded, 

Betide  what  so  betide. 

His  spere  was  of  fine  cypres, 

That  bodeth  warre  and  nothing  pees, 

The  hed  ful  sharpe  yground. 
His  stede  was  all  of  dapper  gray. 
It  goth  an  amble  in  the  way, 

Ful  softely  in  londe." 

There  is  so  much  of  character  in  his  squire's  face  in  the  same  picture,  and 

that  character  so  different  from  our  conventional  idea  of  a  squire,  that  we  are 

;mpted  to  give  a  sketch  of  it  on  p.  352,  as  he  leans  over  the  horse's  back 

Iking  to  his  master.  This  MS.  affords  us  a  whole  gallery  of  squires  attendant 

lpon  their  knights.     At  folio  66  v.  is  one  carrying  his  master's  spear  and 

*  Debate  —contend, 
t  Cuirbouly — stamped  leather. 
%  Latoun — brass. 

i  Compare  Tennyson's  description  of  Sir  Lancelot,  in  the  "  Lady  of  Shalot," 
"  His  gemmy  bridle  glittered  free, 
Like  to  some  branch  of  stars  we  see ; 
Hung  in  the  golden  galaxy, 
As  he  rode  down  to  CameloL" 


The  Knights  of  the  Middle  Ages. 

shield,  who  has  a  round  cap  with  a  long  feather,  like  that  in  the  woodcut 
In  several  other  instances  the  squire  rides  bareheaded,  but  has  his  hood 
hanging  behind  on  his  shoulders  ready  for  a  cold  day  or  a  shower  of  rain. 
In  another  place  the  knight  is  attended  by  two  squires,  one  bearing  his 
master's  tilting  helmet  on  his  shoulder,  the  other  carrying  his  spear  and 
shield.  In  all  cases  the  squires  are  unarmed,  and  mature  men  of  rather 
heavy  type,  different  from  the  gay  and  gallant  youths  whom  we  are  apt  to 
picture  to  ourselves  as  the  squires  of  the  days  of  chivalry  attendant  on 

The  Knight-Errant 's  Squire. 
noble  knights  adventurous.  In  other  cases  we  see  the  squires  looking  on 
very  phlegmatically  while  their  masters  are  in  the  height  of  a  single 
combat ;  perhaps  a  knight  adventurous  was  not  a  hero  to  his  squire.  But 
again  we  see  the  squire  starting  into  activity  to  catch  his  master's  steed, 
from  which  he  has  been  unhorsed  by  an  antagonist  of  greater  strength  or 
skill,  or  good  fortune.  We  see  him  also  in  the  lists  at  a  tournament,  hand- 
ing his  master  a  new  spear  when  he  has  splintered  his  own  on  an  oppo- 
nent's shield ;  or  helping  him  to  his  feet  when  he  has  been  overthrown, 
horse  and  man,  under  the  hoofs  of  prancing  horses. 



jE  have  no  inclination  to  deny  that  life  is  more  safe  and  easy  in 
these  days  than  it  was  in  the  Middle  Ages,  but  it  certainly  is  less 
picturesque,  and  adventurous,  and  joyous.     This  country  then 

presented  the  features  of  interest  which  those  among  us  who  have  wealth 
and  leisure  now  travel  to  foreign  lands  to  find.  There  were  vast  tracts  of 
primeval  forest,  and  wild  unenclosed  moors  and  commons,  and  marshes 
and  meres.  The  towns  were  surrounded  by  walls  and  towers,  and  the 
narrow  streets  of  picturesque,  gabled,  timber  houses  were  divided  by  wide 
spaces  of  garden  and  grove,  above  which  rose  numerous  steeples  of 
churches  full  of  artistic  wealth.  The  villages  consisted  of  a  group  of 
cottages  scattered  round  a  wide  green,  with  a  village  cross  in  the  middle, 
and  a  maypole  beside  it  And  there  were  stately  monasteries  in  the  rich 
valleys ;  and  castles  crowned  the  hills ;  and  moated  manor-houses  lay  buried 
their  woods ;  and  hermitages  stood  by  the  dangerous  fords.  The  high 
>ads  were  little  more  than  green  lanes  with  a  narrow  beaten  track  in  the 
iddle,  poached  into  deep  mud  in  winter ;  and  the  by-roads  were  bridle- 
iths  winding  from  village  to  village  ;  and  the  costumes  of  the  people  were 
picturesque  in  fashion,  bright  in  colour,  and  characteristic.  The 
pranced  along  in  silks  and  velvets,  in  plumed  hat,  and  enamelled  belt,  and 
gold-hilted  sword  and  spurs,  with  a  troop  of  armed  servants  behind  him ; 
the  abbot,  in  the  robe  of  his  order,  with  a  couple  of  chaplains,  all  on 
ambling  palfreys ;  the  friar  paced  along  in  serge  frock  and  sandals ;  the 
minstrel,  in  gay  coat,  sang  snatches  of  lays  as  he  wandered  along  from  hall 
to  castle,  with  a  lad  at  his  back  carrying  his  harp  or  gittem  ;  the  traders 

2  A 

354  The  Knights  of  the  Middle  Ages. 

went  from  fair  to  fair,  taking  their  goods  on  strings  of  pack  horses ;  a  pilgrim, 
passed  now  and  then,  with  staff  and  scrip  and  cloak ;  and,  now  and  then,  a 
knight-errant  in  full  armour  rode  by  on  his  war-horse,  with  a  squire  carrying 
his  helm  and  spear.  It  was  a  wild  land,  and  the  people  were  rude,  and 
the  times  lawless  ;  but  every  mile  furnished  pictures  for  the  artist,  and  every 
day  offered  the  chance  of  adventures.  The  reader  must  picture  to  himself 
the  aspect  of  the  country  and  the  manners  of  the  times,  before  he  can 
appreciate  the  spirit  of  knight-errantry,  to  which  it  is  necessary  that  we 
should  devote  one  of  these  chapters  on  the  Knights  of  the  Middle  Ages. 

The  knight-errant  was  usually  some  young  knight  who  had  been  lately 
dubbed,  and  who,  full  of  courage  and  tired  of  the  monotony  of  his  father's 
manor-house,  set  out  in  search  of  adventures.  We  could  envy  him  as,  on  some 
bright  spring  morning,  he  rode  across  the  sounding  drawbridge,  followed 
by  a  squire  in  the  person  of  some  young  forester  as  full  of  animal  spirits 
and  reckless  courage  as  himself;  or,  perhaps,  by  some  steady  old  warrior 
practised  in  the  last  French  war,  whom  his  father  had  chosen  to  take  care 
of  him.  We  sigh  for  our  own  lost  youth  as  we  think  of  him,  with  all  the 
world  before  him — the  mediaeval  world,  with  all  its  possibilities  of  wild 
adventure  and  romantic  fortune ;  with  caitiff  knights  to  overthrow  at  spear- 
point,  and  distressed  damsels  to  succour;  and  princesses  to  win  as  the 
prize  of  some  great  tournament ;  and  rank  and  fame  to  gain  by  prowess 
and  daring,  under  the  eye  of  kings,  in  some  great  stricken  field. 

The  old  romances  enable  us  to  follow  such  an  errant  knight  through  all 
his  travels  and  adventures  ;  and  the  illuminations  leave  hardly  a  point  in 
the  history  unillustrated  by  their  quaint  but  naive  and  charming  pictures. 
Tennyson  has  taken  some  of  the  episodes  out  of  these  old  romances,  and 
filled  up  the  artless  but  suggestive  stories  with  the  rich  detail  and  artistic 
finish  which  adapt  them  to  our  modern  taste,  and  has  made  them  the 
favourite  subjects  of  modern  poetry.  But  he  has  left  a  hundred  others 
behind ;  stories  as  beautiful,  with  words  and  sentences  here  and  there  full 
of  poetry,  destined  to  supply  material  for  future  poems  and  new  subjects 
for  our  painters. 

It  is  our  business  to  quote  from  these  romances  some  of  the  scenes 
which  will  illustrate  our  subject,  and  to  introduce  some  of  the  illuminations 

Knights- Errant. 


that  will  present  them  to  the  eye.  In  selecting  the  literary  sketches,  we 
shall  use  almost  exclusively  the  translation  which  Sir  Thomas  Mallory 
made,  and  Caxton  printed,  of  the  cycle  of  Prince  Arthur  romances,  because 
it  comprises  a  sufficient  number  for  our  purpose,  and  because  the  language, 
while  perfectly  intelligible  and  in  the  best  and  most  vigorous  English,  has 
enough  of  antique  style  to  give  the  charm  which  would  be  wanting  if  we 

A  Squire. 

were  to  translate  the  older  romances  into  modern  phraseology.  In  the 
same  way  we  shall  content  ourselves  with  selecting  pictorial  illustrations 
chiefly  from  MSS.  of  the  fourteenth  century,  the  date  &t  which  many  of 
these  romances  were  brought  into  the  form  in  which  they  have  descended 
to  us. 

A  knight  was  known  to  be  a  knight-errant  by  his  riding  through  the 

356  The  Knights  of  the  Middle  Ages. 

peaceful  country  in  full  armour,  with  a  single  squire  at  his  back,  as  surely 
as  a  man  is  now  recognised  as  a  fox-hunter  who  is  seen  riding  easily  along 
the  strip  of  green  sward  by  the  roadside  in  a  pink  coat  and  velvet  cap. 
"  Fair  knight,"  says  Sir  Tristram,  to  one  whom  he  had  found  sitting  by  a 
fountain,  "ye  seem  for  to  be  a  knight-errant  by  your  arms  and  your 
harness,  therefore  dress  ye  to  just  with  one  of  us  :"  for  this  was  of  course 
inevitable  when  knights-errant  met;  the  whole  passage  is  worth  tran- 
scribing : — "  Sir  Tristram  and  Sir  Kay  rode  within  the  forest  a  mile  or 
more.  And  at  the  last  Sir  Tristram  saw  before  him  a  likely  knight  and  a 
well-made  man,  all  armed,  sitting  by  a  clear  fountain,  and  a  mighty  horse 
near  unto  him  tied  to  a  great  oak,  and  a  man  [his  squire]  riding  by  him, 
leading  an  horse  that  was  laden  with  spears.  Then  Sir  Tristram  rode  near 
him,  and  said,  '  Fair  knight,  why  sit  ye  so  drooping,  for  ye  seem  to  be  an 
errant  knight  by  your  arms  and  harness,  and  therefore  dress  ye  to  just 
with  one  of  us  or  with  both.'  Therewith  that  knight  made  no  words,  but 
took  his  shield  and  buckled  it  about  his  neck,  and  lightly  he  took  his  horse 
and  leaped  upon  him,  and  then  he  took  a  great  spear  of  his  squire,  and 
departed  his  way  a  furlong." 

And  so  we  read  in  another  place  : — "  Sir  Dinadan  spake  on  high  and 
said,  '  Sir  Knight,  make  thee  ready  to  just  with  me,  for  it  is  the  custom  of 
all  arrant  knights  one  for  to  just  with  another.'  '  Sir,'  said  Sir  Epinogris, 
'is  that  the  rule  of  your  arrant  knights,  for  to  make  a  knight  to  just 
whether  he  will  or  not?'  'As  for  that,  make  thee  ready,  for  here  is  for 
me.'  And  therewith  they  spurred  their  horses,  and  met  together  so  hard 
that  Sir  Epinogris  smote  down  Sir  Dinadan  " — and  so  taught  him  the  truth 
of  the  adage  "  that  it  is  wise  to  let  sleeping  dogs  lie." 

But  they  did  not  merely  take  the  chance  of  meeting  one  another  as  they 
journeyed.  A  knight  in  quest  of  adventures  would  sometimes  station  him- 
self at  a  ford  or  bridge,  and  mount  guard  all  day  long,  and  let  no  knight- 
errant  pass  until  he  had  jousted  with  him.  Thus  we  read  "  then  they  rode 
forth  all  together,  King  Mark,  Sir  Lamorake,  and  Sir  Dinadan,  till  that 
they  came  unto  a  bridge,  and  at  the  end  of  that  bridge  stood  a  fair  tower. 
Then  saw  they  a  knight  on  horseback,  well  armed,  brandishing  a  spear, 
crying  and  proffering  himself  to  just."      And  again,  "  When  King  Mark 

Knights-Errant  357 

and  Sir  Dinadan  had  ridden  about  four  miles,  they  came  unto  a  bridge, 
whereas  hoved  a  knight  on  horseback,  and  ready  to  just.  '  So,'  said  Sir 
Dinadan  unto  King  Mark,  '  yonder  hoveth  a  knight  that  will  just,  for  there 
shall  none  pass  this  bridge  but  he  must  just  with  that  knight.' " 

And  again :  "  They  rode  through  the  forest,  and  at  the  last  they  were 
ware  of  two  pavilions  by  a  priory  with  two  shields,  and  the  one  shield  was 
renewed  with  white  and  the  other  shield  was  red.  '  Thou  shalt  not  pass 
this  way,'  said  the  dwarf,  •  but  first  thou  must  just  with  yonder  knights  that 
abide  in  yonder  pavilions  that  thou  seest.'  Then  was  Sir  Tor  ware  where 
two  pavilions  were,  and  great  spears  stood  out,  and  two  shields  hung  on 
two  trees  by  the  pavilions."  In  the  same  way  a  knight  would  take  up  his 
abode  for  a  few  days  at  a  wayside  cross  where  four  ways  met,  in  order  to 
meet  adventures  from  east,  west,  north,  and  south.  Notice  of  adventures 
was  sometimes  affixed  upon  such  a  cross,  as  we  read  in  "  Prince  Arthur  " : 
"  And  so  Sir  Galahad  and  he  rode  forth  all  that  week  ere  they  found  any 
adventure.  And  then  upon  a  Sunday,  in  the  morning,  as  they  were  departed 
from  an  abbey,  they  came  unto  a  cross  which  departed  two  ways.  And  on 
that  cross  were  letters  written  which  said  thus  :  Now  ye  knights-errant  thai 
goeth  forth  for  to  seek  adventures,  see  here  two  ways"  &c. 

Wherever  they  went,  they  made  diligent  inquiry  for  adventures.  Thus 
"  Sir  Launcelot  departed,  and  by  adventure  he  came  into  a  forest.  And  in 
the  midst  of  a  highway  he  met  with  a  damsel  riding  on  a  white  palfrey,  and 
either  saluted  other:  '  Fair  damsel,'  said  Sir  Launcelot,  'know  ye  in  this 
country  any  adventures  ?'  •  Sir  Knight,'  said  the  damsel,  '  here  are  adven- 
tures near  at  hand,  an  thou  durst  prove  them.'  'Why  should  I  not  prove 
adventures,'  said  Sir  Launcelot,  'as  for  that  cause  came  I  hither?'"  And 
on  another  occasion,  we  read,  Sir  Launcelot  passed  out  of  the  (King 
Arthur's)  court  to  seek  adventures,  and  Sir  Ector  made  him  ready 
to  meet  Sir  Launcelot,  and  as  he  had  ridden  long  in  a  great  forest, 
he  met  with  a  man  that  was  like  a  forester. — These  frequent  notices  of 
"riding  long  through  a  great  forest"  are  noticeable  as  evidences  of  the 
condition  of  the  country  in  those  days. — "  Fair  fellow,"  said  Sir  Ector, 
"knowest  thou  in  this  country  any  adventures  which  be  here  nigh  at  hand?" 
"  Sir,"  said  the  forester,  "  this  country  know  I  well,  and  here  within  this 


The  Knights  of  the  Middle  Ages, 

mile  is  a  strong  manor  and  well  ditched " — not  well  walled  ;  it  was  the 
fashion  of  the  Middle  Ages  to  choose  low  sites  for  their  manor-houses,  and 
to  surround  them  with  moats — such  moats  are  still  common  round  old 
manor-houses  in  Essex — "  and  by  that  manor  on  the  left  hand  is  a  fair  ford 
for  horses  to  drink,  and  over  that  ford  there  groweth  a  fair  tree,  and 
thereon  hangeth  many  fair  shields  that  belonged  some  time  unto  good 
knights  ;  and  at  the  bole  of  the  tree  hangeth  a  bason  of  copper  and  laten ; 
and  strike  upon  that  bason  with  the  end  of  the  spear  thrice,  and  soon  after 

Preliminaries  of  Combat  in  Green  Court  of  Castl*. 

thou  shalt  hear  good  tidings,  and  else  hast  thou  the  fairest  grace  that  many 
a  year  any  knight  had  that  passed  through  this  forest." 

Every  castle  offered  hope,  not  only  of  hospitality,  but  also  of  a  trial  of 
arms ;  for  in  every  castle  there  would  be  likely  to  be  knights  and  squires 
glad  of  the  opportunity  of  running  a  course  with  bated  spears  with  a  new 
and  skilful  antagonist.  Here  is  a  picture  from  an  old  MS.  which  repre- 
sents the  preliminaries  of  such  a  combat  on  the  green  between  the  castle 
walls  and  the  moat.  In  many  castles  there  was  a  special  tilting-ground. 
Thus  we  read,  "  Sir  Percivale  passed  the  water,  and  when  he  came  unto 

Knights- Errant.  359 

the  castle  gate,  he  said  to  the  porter,  '  Go  thou  unto  the  good  knight 
within  the  castle,  and  tell  him  that  here  is  came  an  errant  knight  to  just 
with  him.'  '  Sir,'  said  the  porter,  •  ride  ye  within  the  castle,  and  there  shall 
ye  find  a  common  place  for  justing,  that  lords  and  ladies  may  behold 
you.'"  At  Carisbrook  Castle,  in  the  Isle  of  Wight,  the  tilting-ground 
remains  to  this  day  ;  a  plot  of  level  green  sward,  with  raised  turfed  banks 
round  it,  that  at  the  same  time  served  as  the  enclosure  of  the  lists,  and  a 
vantage-ground  from  which  the  spectators  might  see  the  sport.  At  Gaws- 
worth,  also,  the  ancient  tilting-ground  still  remains.  But  in  most  castles 
of  any  size,  the  outer  court  afforded  room  enough  for  a  course,  and  at  the 
worst  there  was  the  green  meadow  outside  the  castle  walls.  In  some  castles 
they  had  special  customs ;  just  as  in  old-fashioned  country-houses  one  used 
to  be  told  it  was  "  the  custom  of  the  house  "  to  do  this  and  that ;  so  it  was 
"the  custom  of  the  castle"  for  every  knight  to  break  three  lances,  for  instance, 
or  exchange  three  strokes  of  sword  with  the  lord  —  a  quondam  errant 
knight  be  sure,  thus  creating  adventures  for  himself  at  home  when  marriage 
and  cares  of  property  forbade  him  to  roam  in  search  of  them.  Thus,  in 
the  Romance : — "  Sir  Tristram  and  Sir  Dinadan  rode  forth  their  way  till  they 
came  to  some  shepherds  and  herdsmen,  and  there  they  asked  if  they  knew 
any  lodging  or  harbour  thereabout"  "Forsooth,  fair  lords,"  said  the 
herdsmen,  "  nigh  hereby  is  a  good  lodging  in  a  castle,  but  such  a  custom 
there  is  that  there  shall  no  knight  be  lodged  but  if  he  first  just  with  two 
knights,  and  if  ye  be  beaten,  and  have  the  worse,  ye  shall  not  be  lodged 
there,  and  if  ye  beat  them,  ye  shall  be  well  lodged."  The  Knights  of  the 
Round  Table  easily  vanquished  the  two  knights  of  the  castle,  and  were 
hospitably  received ;  but  while  they  were  at  table  came  Sir  Palomides,  and 
Sir  Gaheris,  "requiring  to  have  the  custom  of  the  castle."  "And  now," 
said  Sir  Tristram,  "  must  we  defend  the  custom  of  the  castle,  inasmuch  as 
we  have  the  better  of  the  lord  of  the  castle." 

Here  is  the  kind  of  invitation  they  were  sure  to  receive  from  gentlemen 
living  peaceably  on  their  estates,  but  sympathising  with  the  high  spirit  and 
love  of  adventure  which  sent  young  knights  a- wandering  through  their 
woods  and  meadows,  and  under  their  castle  walls  : — Sir  Tristram  and  Sir 
Gareth  "  were  ware  of  a  knight  that  came  riding  against  [towards]  them 

360  The  Knights  of  the  Middle  Ages. 

unarmed,  and  nothing  about  him  but  a  sword ;  and  when  this  knight  came 
nigh  them  he  saluted  them,  and  they  him  again.  '  Fair  knights,'  said  that 
knight,  '  I  pray  you,  inasmuch  as  ye  are  knights  errant,  that  ye  will  come 
and  see  my  castle,  and  take  such  as  ye  find  there,  I  pray  you  heartily.' 
And  so  they  rode  with  him  to  his  castle,  and  there  they  were  brought  to 
the  hall  that  was  well  appareled,  and  so  they  were  unarmed  and  set  at  a 

We  have  already  heard  in  these  brief  extracts  of  knights  lodging  at 
castles  and  abbeys  :  we  often  find  them  received  at  manor-houses.  Here 
is  one  of  the  most  graphic  pictures : — "  Then  Sir  Launcelot  mounted  upon 
his  horse  and  rode  into  many  strange  and  wild  countries,  and  through 
many  waters  and  valleys,  and  evil  was  he  lodged.  And  at  the  last,  by 
fortune,  it  happened  him  against  a  night  to  come  to  a  poor  courtilage, 
and  therein  he  found  an  old  gentleman,  which  lodged  him  with  a  good 
will,  and  there  he  and  his  horse  were  well  cheered.  And  when  time  was, 
his  host  brought  him  to  a  fair  garret  over  a  gate  to  his  bed.  There  Sir 
Launcelot  unarmed  him,  and  set  his  harness  by  him,  and  went  to  bed, 
and  anon  he  fell  in  sleep.  So,  soon  after,  there  came  one  on  horseback, 
and  knocked  at  the  gate  in  great  haste.  And  when  Sir  Launcelot 
heard  this,  he  arose  up  and  looked  out  at  the  window,  and  saw  by  the 
moonlight  three  knights  that  came  riding  after  that  one  man,  and  all 
three  lashed  upon  him  at  once  with  their  swords,  and  that  one  knight 
turned  on  them  knightly  again,  and  defended  himself."  And  Sir  Launcelot, 
like  an  errant  knight,  "  took  his  harness  and  went  out  at  the  window  by  a 
sheet,"  and  made  them  yield,  and  commanded  them  at  Whit  Sunday  to  go 
to  King  Arthur's  court,  and  there  yield  them  unto  Queen  Guenever's  grace 
and  mercy  ;  for  so  errant  knights  gave  to  their  lady-loves  the  evidences  of 
their  prowess,  and  did  them  honour,  by  sending  them  a  constant  succession 
of  vanquished  knights,  and  putting  them  "  unto  her  grace  and  mercy." 

Very  often  the  good  knight  in  the  midst  of  forest  or  wild  found  a  night's 
shelter  in  a  friendly  hermitage,  for  hermitages,  indeed,  were  established 
partly  to  afford  shelter  to  belated  travellers.  Here  is  an  example.  Sir 
Tor  asks  the  dwarf  who  is  his  guide,  " ' Know  ye  any  lodging ? '  'I  know 
none,'  said  the  dwarf;  'but  here  beside  is  an  hermitage,  and  there  ye  must 

Knight- Errantry.  361 

take  such  lodging  as  ye  find.'  And  within  a  while  they  came  to  the 
hermitage  and  took  lodging,  and  there  was  grass  and  oats  and  bread  for 
their  horses.  Soon  it  was  spread,  and  full  hard  was  their  supper ;  but 
there  they  rested  them  all  the  night  till  on  the  morrow,  and  heard  a  mass 
devoutly,  and  took  their  leave  of  the  hermit,  and  Sir  Tor  prayed  the  hermit 
to  pray  for  him,  and  he  said  he  would,  and  betook  him  to  God ;  and  so 
he  mounted  on  horseback,  and  rode  towards  Camelot." 

But  sometimes  not  even  a  friendly  hermitage  came  in  sight  at  the  hour 
of  twilight,  when  the  forest  glades  darkened,  and  the  horse  track  across 
the  moor  could  no  longer  be  seen,  and  the  knight  had  to  betake  himself  to  a 
soldier's  bivouac.  It  is  an  incident  often  met  with  in  the  Romances.  Here 
is  a  more  poetical  description  than  usual : — "  And  anon  these  knights 
made  them  ready,  and  rode  over  holts  and  hills,  through  forests  and  woods, 
till  they  came  to  a  fair  meadow  full  of  fair  flowers  and  grass,  and  there 
they  rested  them  and  their  horses  all  that  night."  Again,  "Sir  Launcelot 
rode  into  a  forest,  and  there  he  met  with  a  gentlewoman  riding  upon  a 
white  palfrey,  and  she  asked  him,  '  Sir  Knight,  whither  ride  ye  ? '  ■  Cer- 
tainly, damsel,'  said  Sir  Launcelot,  '  I  wot  not  whither  I  ride,  but  as  fortune 

leadeth  me.' Then  Sir  Launcelot  asked  her  where  he  might  be 

harboured  that  night  'Ye  shall  none  find  this  day  nor  night,  but  to- 
morrow ye  shall  find  good  harbour.'  And  then  he  commended  her  unto 
God.  Then  he  rode  till  he  came  to  a  cross,  and  took  that  for  his  host  as 
for  that  night.  And  he  put  his  horse  to  pasture,  and  took  off  his  helm  and 
shield,  and  made  his  prayers  to  the  cross,  that  he  might  never  again  fall 
into  deadly  sin,  and  so  he  laid  him  down  to  sleep,  and  anon  as  he  slept  it 
befel  him  that  he  had  a  vision,"  with  which  we  will  not  trouble  the  reader ; 
but  we  commend  the  incident  to  any  young  artist  in  want  of  a  subject  for 
a  picture :  the  wayside  cross  where  the  four  roads  meet  in  the  forest,  the 
gnarled  tree-trunks  with  their  foliage  touched  with  autumn  tints,  and  the 
green  bracken  withering  into  brown  and  yellow  and  red,  under  the  level 
rays  of  the  sun  which  fling  alternate  bars  of  light  and  shade  across  the 
scene;  and  the  noble  war-horse  peacefully  grazing  on  the  short  sweet 
forest  grass,  and  the  peerless  knight  in  glorious  gilded  arms,  with  his 
helmet  at  his  feet,  and  his  great  spear  leaned  against  a  tree-trunk,  kneeling 


The  Knights  of  the  Middle  Ages. 

before  the  cross,  with  his  grave  noble  face,  and  his  golden  hair  gleaming  in 
the  sun-light,  "making  his  prayers  that  he  might  never  again  fall  into 
deadly  sin." 

In  the  old  monumental  brasses  in  which  pictures  of  the  knightly  costume 
are  preserved  to  us  with  such  wonderful  accuracy  and  freshness,  it  is  very 
common  to  find  the  knight  represented  as  lying  with  his  tilting  helm  under 
his  head  by  way  of  pillow.  One  would  take  it  for  a  mere  artistic  arrange- 
ment for  raising  the  head  of  the  recumbent  figure,  and  for  introducing  this 
important  portion  of  his  costume,  but  that  the  Romances  tell  us  that 
knights  did  actually  make  use  of  their  helm  for  a  pillow ;  a  hard  pillow, 
no  doubt — but  we  have  all  heard  of  the  veteran  who  kicked  from  under  his 

Knights,  Damsel,  and  Squire. 

son's  head  the  snowball  which  he  had  rolled  together  for  a  pillow  at  his 
bivouac  in  the  winter  snow,  indignant  at  his  degenerate  effeminacy.  Thus 
we  read  of  Sir  Tristram  and  Sir  Palomides, "  They  mounted  upon  their  horses, 
and  rode  together  into  the  forest,  and  there  they  found  a  fair  well  with 
clear  water  burbelling.  '  Fair  Sir,'  said  Sir  Tristram,  '  to  drink  of  that  water 
have  I  a  lust.'  And  then  they  alighted  from  their  horses,  and  then  were 
they  ware  by  them  where  stood  a  great  horse  tied  to  a  tree,  and  ever  he 
neighed,  and  then  were  they  ware  of  a  fair  knight  armed  under  a  tree,  lack- 
ing no  piece  of  harness,  save  his  helm  lay  under  his  head.  Said  Sir  Tris- 
tram, '  Yonder  lieth  a  fair  knight,  what  is  best  to  do  ? '  '  Awake  him,'  said 
Sir  Palomides.     So  Sir  Tristram  waked  him  with  the  end  of  his  spear.'* 

Knight- Errantry.  363 

They  had  better  have  let  him  be,  for  the  knight,  thus  roused,  got  him  to 
horse  and  overthrew  them  both.  Again,  we  read  how  "  Sir  Launcelot  bad 
his  brother,  Sir  Lionel,  to  make  him  ready,  for  we  two,  said  he,  will  seek 
adventures.  So  they  mounted  upon  their  horses,  armed  at  all  points,  and 
rode  into  a  deep  forest,  and  after  they  came  into  a  great  plain,  and  then 
the  weather  was  hot  about  noon,  and  Sir  Launcelot  had  great  lust  to  sleep. 
Then  Sir  Lionel  espied  a  great  apple-tree  that  stood  by  a  hedge,  and 
said,  '  Brother,  yonder  is  a  fair  shadow  5  there  may  we  rest  us,  and  our 
horses.'  'It  is  well  said,  fair  brother,'  said  Sir  Launcelot,  'for  all  the 
seven  year  I  was  not  so  sleepy  as  I  am  now.'  And  so  they  alighted  there, 
and  tied  their  horses  unto  sundry  trees,  and  so  Sir  Launcelot  laid  him 
down  under  an  apple-tree,  and  laid  his  helm  under  his  head.  And  Sir 
Lionel  waked  while  he  slept." 

The  knight  did  not,  however,  always  trust  to  chance  for  shelter,  and  risk 
a  night  in  the  open  air.  Sometimes  we  find  he  took  the  field  in  this  mimic 
warfare  with  a  baggage  train,  and  had  his  tent  pitched  for  the  night  wher- 
ever night  overtook  him,  or  camped  for  a  few  days  wherever  a  pleasant 
glade,  or  a  fine  prospect,  or  an  agreeable  neighbour,  tempted  him  to  pro- 
long his  stay.  And  he  would  picket  his  horse  hard  by,  and  thrust  his  spear 
into  the  ground  beside  the  tent  door,  and  hang  his  shield  upon  it.  Thus 
we  read  : — "  Now  turn  we  unto  Sir  Launcelot,  that  had  long  been  riding 
in  a  great  forest,  and  at  last  came  into  a  low  country,  full  of  fair  rivers  and 
meadows,  and  afore  him  he  saw  a  long  bridge,  and  three  pavilions  stood 
thereon  of  silk  and  sendal  of  divers  hue,  and  without  the  pavilions  hung 
three  white  shields  on  truncheons  of  spears,  and  great  long  spears  stood 
upright  by  the  pavilions,  and  at  every  pavilion's  door  stood  three  fresh 
squires,  and  so  Sir  Launcelot  passed  by  them,  and  spake  not  a  word." 
We  may  say  here  that  it  was  not  unusual  for  people  in  fine  weather  to  pitch 
a  tent  in  the  courtyard  or  garden  of  the  castle,  and  live  there  instead  of 
indoors,  or  to  go  a-field  and  pitch  a  little  camp  in  some  pleasant  place, 
and  spend  the  time  in  justing  and  feasting,  and  mirth  and  minstrelsy.  We 
read  in  one  of  the  Romances  how  "  the  king  and  queen — King  Arthur 
and  Queen  Guenever,  to  wit — made  their  pavilions  and  their  tents  to  be 
pitched  in  the  forest,  beside  a  river,  and  there  was  daily  hunting,  for  there 


The  Knights  of  the  Middle  Ages. 

were  ever  twenty  knights  ready  for  to  just  with  all  them  that  came  in  at 
that  time."     And  here,  in  the  woodcut  below,  is  a  picture  of  the  scene. 

Usually,  perhaps,  there  was  not  much  danger  in  these  adventures  of  a 
knight-errant.  There  was  a  fair  prospect  of  bruises,  and  a  risk  of  broken 
bones  if  he  got  an  awkward  fall,  but  not  more  risk  perhaps  than  in  the 
modern  hunting-field.  Even  if  the  combat  went  further  than  the  usual 
three  courses  with  bated  spears,  if  they  did  draw  swords  and  continue  the 
combat  on  foot,  there  was  usually  no  more  real  danger  than  in  a  duel  of 
German   students.      But   sometimes   cause   of  anger  would  accidentally 

King,  &c,  in  Pavilion  before  Castle. 

rise  between  two  errant  knights,  or  the  combat  begun  in  courtesy  would 
fire  their  hot  blood,  and  they  would  resolve  "  worshipfully  to  win  worship, 
or  die  knightly  on  the  field,"  and  a  serious  encounter  would  take  place. 
There  were  even  some  knights  of  evil  disposition  enough  to  take  delight 
in  making  every  combat  a  serious  one ;  and  some  of  the  adventures  in  which 
we  take  most  interest  relate  how  these  bloodthirsty  bullies,  attacking  in 
ignorance  some  Knight  of  the  Round  Table,  got  a  well-deserved  blood- 
letting for  their  pains. 

We  must  give  one  example  of  a  combat — rather  a  long  one,  but  it  com- 
bines many  different  points  of  interest.     "  So  as  they  (Merlin  and  King 

Knight- Errantry. 


Arthur)  went  thus  talking,  they  came  to  a  fountain,  and  a  rich  pavilion  by 
it.  Then  was  King  Arthur  aware  where  a  knight  sat  all  armed  in  a  chair. 
*  Sir  Knight,'  said  King  Arthur,  '  for  what  cause  abidest  thou  here,  that 
there  may  no  knight  ride  this  way,  but  if  he  do  just  with  thee  ;  leave  that 
custom.'  '  This  custom,'  said  the  knight,  '  have  I  used,  and  will  use 
maugre  who  saith  nay,  and  who  is  grieved  with  my  custom,  let  him  amend 
it  that  will.'  '  I  will  amend  it,'  saith  King  Arthur.  '  And  I  shall  defend 
it,'  saith  the  knight.  Anon  he  took  his  horse,  and  dressed  his  shield,  and 
took  a  spear ;  and  they  met  so  hard  either  on  other's  shield,  that  they 
shivered  their  spears.  Therewith  King  Arthur  drew  his  sword.  '  Nay, 
not  so,'  saith  the  knight,  '  it  is  fairer  that  we  twain  run  more  together  *ith 

Knights  Justing. 

sharp  spears.'  '  I  will  well,'  said  King  Arthur,  *  an  I  had  any  more 
spears.'  '  I  have  spears  enough,'  said  the  knight.  So  there  came  a  squire, 
and  brought  two  good  spears,  and  King  Arthur  took  one,  and  he  another ; 
so  they  spurred  their  horses,  and  came  together  with  all  their  might,  that 
either  break  their  spears  in  their  hands.  Then  King  Arthur  set  hand  to 
his  sword.  '  Nay,'  said  the  knight,  '  ye  shall  do  better ;  ye  are  a  passing 
good  juster  as  ever  I  met  withal ;  for  the  love  of  the  high  order  of  knight- 
hood let  us  just  it  once  again.'  '  I  assent  me,'  said  King  Arthur.  Anon 
there  were  brought  two  good  spears,  and  each  knight  got  a  spear,  and 
therewith  they  ran  together,  that  King  Arthur's  spear  broke  to  shivers. 
But  the  knight  hit  him  so  hard  in  the  middle  of  the  shield,  that  horse 

366  The  Knights  of  the  Middle  Ages. 

and  man  fell  to  the  earth,  wherewith  King  Arthur  was  sore  angered,  and 
drew  out  his  sword,  and  said,  '  I  will  assay  thee,  Sir  Knight,  on  foot, 
for  I  have  lost  the  honour  on  horseback.'  •  I  will  be  on  horseback,'  said 
the  knight.  Then  was  King  Arthur  wrath,  and  dressed  his  shield  towards 
him  with  his  sword  drawn.  When  the  knight  saw  that,  he  alighted  for 
him,  for  he  thought  it  was  no  worship  to  have  a  knight  at  such  advantage, 
he  to  be  on  horseback,  and  the  other  on  foot,  and  so  alighted,  and  dressed 
himself  to  King  Arthur.  Then  there  began  a  strong  battle  with  many  great 
strokes,  and  so  hewed  with  their  swords  that  the  cantels  flew  on  the  field, 
and  much  blood  they  bled  both,  so  that  all  the  place  where  they  fought 
was  all  bloody ;  and  thus  they  fought  long  and  rested  them,  and  then  they 
went  to  battle  again,  and  so  hurtled  together  like  two  wild  boars,  that 
either  of  them  fell  to  the  earth.  So  at  the  last  they  smote  together,  that 
both  their  swords  met  even  together.  But  the  sword  of  the  knight  smote 
King  Arthur's  sword  in  two  pieces,  wherefore  he  was  heavy.  Then  said 
the  knight  to  the  king,  '  Thou  art  in  my  danger,  whether  me  list  to  slay 
thee  or  save  thee ;  and  but  thou  yield  thee  as  overcome  and  recreant,  thou 
shalt  die.'  'As  for  death/  said  King  Arthur,  'welcome  be  it  when  it 
cometh,  but  as  to  yield  me  to  thee  as  recreant,  I  had  liever  die  than  be  so 
shamed.'  And  therewithal  the  king  leapt  upon  Pelinore,  and  took  him 
by  the  middle,  and  threw  him  down,  and  rased  off  his  helmet.  When 
the  knight  felt  that  he  was  a  dread,  for  he  was  a  passing  big  man  of  might ; 
and  anon  he  brought  King  Arthur  under  him,  and  rased  off  his  helmet, 
and  would  have  smitten  off  his  head.  Therewithal  came  Merlin,  and  said, 
'  Knight,  hold  thy  hand.'  " 

Happy  for  the  wounded  knight  if  there  were  a  religious  house  at  hand, 
for  there  he  was  sure  to  find  kind  hospitality  and  such  surgical  skill  as  the 
times  afforded.  King  Bagdemagus  had  this  good  fortune  when  he  had 
been  wounded  by  Sir  Galahad.  "I  am  sore  wounded,"  said  he,  "  and 
full  hardly  shall  I  escape  from  the  death.  Then  the  squire  fet  [fetched] 
his  horse,  and  brought  him  with  great  pain  to  an  abbey.  Then  was  he 
taken  down  softly  and  unarmed,  and  laid  in  a  bed,  and  his  wound  was 
looked  into,  for  he  lay  there  long  and  escaped  hard  with  his  life."  So 
Sir  Tristram,  in  his  combat  with  Sir  Marhaus,  was  so   sorely  wounded, 

Knight- Errantry.  367 

•  that  unneath  he  might  recover,  and  lay  at  a  nunnery  half  a  year."  Such 
adventures  sometimes,  no  doubt,  ended  fatally,  as  in  the  case  of  the 
unfortunate  Sir  MarhauB,  and  there  was  a  summary  conclusion  to  his 
adventures ;  and  there  was  nothing  left  but  to  take  him  home  and  bury 
him  in  his  parish  church,  and  hang  his  sword  and  helmet  over  his  tomb. 
Many  a  knight  would  be  satisfied  with  the  series  of  adventures  which 
finished  by  laying  him  on  a  sick  bed  for  six  months,  with  only  an  ancient 
nun  for  his  nurse;  and  as  soon  as  he  was  well  enough  he  would  get 
himself  conveyed  home  on  a  horse  litter,  a  sadder  and  a  wiser  man.  The 
modern  romances  have  good  mediaeval  authority,  too,  for  making  marriage 
a  natural  conclusion  of  their  three  volumes  of  adventures;  we  have  no 
less  authority  for  it  than  that  of  Sir  Launcelot : — "  Now,  damsel,"  said  he, 
at  the  conclusion  of  an  adventure,  "  will  ye  any  more  service  of  me?" 
"  Nay,  sir,"  said  she  at  this  time,  "  but  God  preserve  you,  wherever  ye 
go  or  ride,  for  the  courtliest  knight  thou  art,  and  meekest  to  all  ladies 
and  gentlewomen  that  now  liveth.  But,  Sir  Knight,  one  thing  me  thinketh 
that  ye  lack,  ye  that  are  a  knight  wifeless,  that  ye  will  not  love  some 
maiden  or  gentlewoman,  for  I  could  never  hear  say  that  ye  loved  any  of 
no  manner  degree,  wherefore  many  in  this  country  of  high  estate  and  low 
make  great  sorrow."  "  Fair  damsel,"  said  Sir  Launcelot,  "  to  be  a  wedded 
man  I  think  never  to  be,  for  if  I  were,  then  should  I  be  bound  to  tarry 
with  my  wife,  and  leave  arms  and  tournaments,  battles  and  adventures." 

We  have  only  space  left  for  a  few  examples  of  the  quaint  and  poetical 
phrases  that,  as  we  have  said,  frequently  occur  in  these  Romances,  some 
of  which  Tennyson  has  culled,  and  set  like  uncut  mediaeval  gems  in 
his  circlet  of  "  Idyls  of  the  King."  In  the  account  of  the  great  battle 
between  King  Arthur  and  his  knights  against  the  eleven  kings  "and 
their  chivalry,"  we  read  "they  were  so  courageous,  that  many  knights 
shook  and  trembled  for  eagerness,"  and  "  they  fought  together,  that  the 

*  In  the  MS.  Royal,  1,699,  is  a  picture  in  which  are  represented  a  sword  and  hunting- 
horn  hung  over  a  tomb.  The  helmet,  sword,  and  shield  of  Edward  the  Black  Prince 
still  hang  over  his  tomb  in  Canterbury  Cathedral ;  Henry  IV. 's  saddle  and  helmet  over 
his  tomb  in  Westminster  Abbey ;  and  in  hundreds  of  parish  churches  helmets,  swords, 
gauntlets,  spurs,  &c,  still  hang  over  the  tombs  of  mediaeval  knights. 

368  The  Knights  of  the  Middle  Ages. 

sound  rang  by  the  water  and  the  wood,"  and  "  there  was  slain  that  morrow- 
tide  ten  thousand  of  good  men's  bodies."  The  second  of  these  expres- 
sions is  a  favourite  one  ;  we  meet  with  it  again  :  "  when  King  Ban  came 
into  the  battle,  he  came  in  so  fiercely,  that  the  stroke  resounded  again 
from  the  water  and  the  wood."  Again  we  read,  King  Arthur  "com- 
manded his  trumpets  to  blow  the  bloody  sounds  in  such  wise  that  the 
earth  trembled  and  dindled."  He  was  "a  mighty  man  of  men  ; "  and  "  all 
men  of  worship  said  it  was  merry  to  be  under  such  a  chieftain,  that  would 
put  bis  person  in  adventure  as  other  poor  knights  did." 



•N  the  British  Museum  are  two  volumes  containing  a  rather  large 
number  of  illuminated  pictures  which  have  been  cut  out  of 
MSS.,  chiefly  of  the  early  fourteenth  century,  by  some  collector 
who  did  not  understand  how  much  more  valuable  they  would  have  been, 
even  as  pictures,  if  left  each  by  itself  in  the  appropriate  setting  of  its 
black  letter  page,  than  when  pasted  half-a-dozen  together  in  a  scrap-book. 
That  they  are  severed  from  the  letterpress  which  they  were  intended  to 
illustrate  is  of  the  less  importance,  because  they  seem  all  to  be  illustrations 
of  scenes  in  romances,  and  it  is  not  difficult  to  one  who  is  well  versed  in 
those  early  writings  either  to  identify  the  subjects  or  to  invent  histories  for 
them.  Each  isolated  picture  affords  a  subject  in  which  an  expert,  turning 
the  book  over  and  explaining  it  to  an  amateur,  would  find  material  for  a 
little  lecture  on  mediaeval  art  and  architecture,  costume,  and  manners. 

In  presenting  to  the  reader  the  subjects  which  illustrate  this  chapter,  we 
find  ourselves  placed  by  circumstances  in  the  position  of  being  obliged  to 
treat  them  like  those  scrap-book  pictures  of  which  we  have  spoken,  viz.,  as 
isolated  pictures,  illustrating  generally  our  subject  of  the  Knights  of  the 
Middle  Ages,  needing  each  its  independent  explanation. 

The  first  subject  represents  a  scene  from  some  romance,  in  which  the 
good  knight,  attended  by  his  squire,  is  guided  by  a  damsel  on  some 
adventure.  As  in  the  scene  which  we  find  in  Caxton's  "  Prince  Arthur  "  : 
"  And  the  good  knight,  Sir  Galahad,  rode  so  long,  till  that  he  came  that 
night  to  the  castle  of  Carberecke ;  and  it  befel  him  that  he  was  benighted 
in  an  hermitage.     And  when  they  were  at  rest  there  came  a  gentlewoman 

s  B 


The  Knights  of  the  Middle  Ages. 

knocking  at  the  door,  and  called  Sir  Galahad,  and  so  the  hermit  came  to 
the  door  to  ask  what  she  would.  Then  she  called  the  hermit,  Sir  Ulfric, 
'lama  gentlewoman  that  would  speak  with  the  knight  that  is  with  you.' 
Then  the  good  man  awaked  Sir  Galahad,  and  bade  him  rise  and  speak 
'  with  a  gentlewoman  which  seemeth  hath  great  need  of  you.'  Then  Sir 
Galahad  went  to  her,  and  asked  what  she  would.  '  Sir  Galahad,'  said  she, 
'  I  will  that  you  arm  you  and  mount  upon  your  horse  and  follow  me,  for 
I  will  show  you  within  these  three  days  the  highest  adventure  that  ever 
knight  saw.     Anon,  Sir  Galahad  armed  him,  and  took  his  horse  and  com- 

Lady,  Knight,  and  Squire. 

mended  him  to  God,  and  bade  the  gentlewoman  go,  and  he  would  follow 
her  there  as  she  liked.  So  the  damsel  rode  as  fast  as  her  palfrey  might 
gallop  till  that  she  came  to  the  sea." 

Here  then  we  see  the  lady  ambling  through  the  forest,  and  she 
rides  as  ladies  rode  in  the  middle  ages,  and  as  they  still  ride,  like  female 
centaurs,  in  the  Sandwich  Islands.  She  turns  easily  in  her  saddle, 
though  going  at  a  good  pace,  to  carry  on  an  animated  conversation  with 
the  knight.  He,  it  will  be  seen,  is  in  hauberk  and  hood  of  banded  mail, 
with  the  curious  ornaments  called  ailettes — little  wings — at  his  shoulders. 
He  seems  to  have  genouillieres — knee-pieces  of  plate ;  but  it  is  doubtful 
whether  he  has  also  plate  armour  about  the  leg,  or  whether  the  artist  has 

Knight- Errantry. 


omitted  the  lines  which  would  indicate  that  the  legs  were,  as  is  more  pro- 
bably the  case,  also  protected  by  banded  mail.  He  wears  the  prick  spur  3 
and  his  body-armour  is  protected  from  sun  and  rain  by  the  surcoat.  Behind 
him  prances  his  squire.  The  reader  will  not  fail  to  notice  the  character 
which  the  artist  has  thrown  into  his  attitude  and  the  expression  of  his  features. 
It  will  be  seen  that  he  is  not  armed,  but  wears  the  ordinary  civil  costume, 
with  a  hood  and  hat ;  he  carries  his  master's  spear,  and  the  shield  is  sus- 
pended at  his  back  by  its  guige  or  strap ;  its  hollow  shape  and  the  rampant 
lion  emblazoned  on  it  will  not  be  overlooked. 

Romance  writers  are  sometimes  accused  of  forgetting  that  their  heroes 
are  human,  and  need  to  eat  and  drink  and  sleep.  But  this  is  hardly  true 
of  the  old  romancers,  who,  in  relating  knightly  adventures,  did  not  draw 

-? — V 

Knight  at  Supper. 

upon  their  imagination,  but  described  the  things  which  were  continually 
happening  about  them ;  and  the  illuminators  in  illustrating  the  romances 
drew  from  the  life — the  life  of  their  own  day — and  this  it  is  which  makes 
their  pictures  so  naive  and  truthful  in  spite  of  their  artistic  defects,  and  so 
valuable  as  historical  authorities.  In  the  engraving  above  is  a  subject 
which  would  hardly  have  occurred  to  modern  romancer  or  illustrator. 
The  crowd  of  tents  tells  us  that  the  scene  is  cast  in  the  "  tented  field," 
either  of  real  war  or  of  the  mimic  war  of  some  great  tournament.     The 

372  The  Knights  of  the  Middle  Ages, 

combat  of  the  day  is  over.  The  modern  romancer  would  have  dropped 
the  curtain  for  the  day,  to  be  drawn  up  again  next  morning  when  the 
trumpets  of  the  heralds  called  the  combatants  once  more  to  the  field. 
Our  mediaeval  illuminator  has  given  us  a  charming  episode  in  the  story. 
He  has  followed  the  good  knight  to  his  pavilion  pitched  in  the  meadow 
hard  by.  The  knight  has  doffed  his  armour,  and  taken  his  bath,  and  put 
on  his  robes  of  peace,  and  heard  vespers,  and  gone  to  supper.  The  lighted 
candles  show  that  it  is  getting  dusk.  It  is  only  by  an  artistic  license  that 
the  curtains  of  the  tent  are  drawn  aside  to  display  the  whole  interior ;  in 
reality  they  were  close  drawn ;  these  curtains  are  striped  of  alternate 
breadths  of  gay  colours — gold  and  red  and  green  and  blue.  Any  one  who 
has  seen  how  picturesque  a  common  bell  tent,  pitched  on  the  lawn,  looks 
from  the  outside,  when  one  has  been  tempted  by  a  fine  summer  evening  to 
stay  out  late  and  "  have  candles,"  will  be  able  to  perceive  how  picturesque 
the  striped  curtains  of  this  pavilion  would  be,  how  eminently  picturesque 
the  group  of  such  pavilions  here  indicated,  with  the  foliage  of  trees  over- 
head and  the  grey  walls  and  towers  of  a  mediaeval  town  in  the  background, 
with  the  stars  coming  out  one  by  one  among  the  turrets  and  spires  sharply 
defined  against  the  fading  sky. 

The  knight,  like  a  good  chevalier  and  humane  master,  has  first  seen  his 
war-horse  groomed  and  fed.  And  what  a  sure  evidence  that  the  picture  is 
from  the  life  is  this  introduction  of  the  noble  animal  sharing  the  shelter  of 
the  tent  of  his  master,  who  waits  for  supper  to  be  served.  The  furniture  of 
the  table  is  worth  looking  at — the  ample  white  table-cloth,  though  the 
table  is,  doubtless,  only  a  board  on  trestles ;  and  the  two  candlesticks  of 
massive  and  elegant  shape,  show  that  the  candlesticks  now  called  altar- 
candlesticks  are  only  of  the  ordinary  domestic  mediaeval  type,  obsolete 
now  in  domestic  use,  but  still  retained,  like  so  many  other  ancient  fashions, 
in  ecclesiastical  use.  There,  too,  are  the  wine  flagon  and  cup,  and  the 
salt  between  them  ;  the  knife  is  at  the  knight's  right  hand.  We  almost  ex- 
pect to  see  the  squire  of  the  last  picture  enter  from  behind,  bearing  aloft  in 
both  hands  a  fat  capon  on  an  ample  pewter  platter. 

The  little  subject  which  is  next  engraved  will  enable  us  to  introduce 
from  the  Romance  of  Prince  Arthur  a  description  of  an  adventure  and  a 

Knight- Errantry. 


graphic  account  of  the  different  turns  and  incidents  of  a  single  combat, 
told  in  language  which  is  rich  in  picturesque  obsolete  words.  "And  so 
they  rode  forth  a  great  while  till  they  came  to  the  borders  of  that  country, 
and  there  they  found  a  full  fair  village,  with  a  strong  bridge  like  a  fortress.  * 
And  when  Sir  Launcelot  and  they  were  at  the  bridge,  there  start  forth  before 
them  many  gentlemen  and  yeomen,  which  said,  '  Fair  lord,  ye  may  not 
pass  over  this  bridge  and  this  fortress  but  one  of  you  at  once,  therefore 
choose  which  of  you  shall  enter  within  this  bridge  first/  Then  Sir 
Launcelot  proffered  himself  first  to  enter  within  this  bridge.     '  Sir,'  said 


Defending  the  Bridge. 

Sir  La  Cote  Male  Taile,  ■  I  beseech  you  let  me  enter  first  within  this 
fortress,  and  if  I  speed  well  I  will  send  for  you,  and  if  it  happen  that  1  be 
slain  there  it  goeth ;  and  if  so  be  that  I  am  taken  prisoner  then  may  ye 
come  and  rescue  me.'  '  I  am  loath,'  said  Sir  Launcelot,  *  to  let  you  take 
this  passage.'  '  Sir,'  said  he,  '  I  pray  you  let  me  put  my  body  in  this 
adventure.'  '  Now  go  your  way,'  said  Sir  Launcelot,  '  and  God  be  your 
speed.'  So  he  entered,  and  anon  there  met  with  him  two  brethren,  the 
one  hight  Sir  Pleine  de  Force  and  that  other  hight  Sir  Pleine  de  Amours  ; 
and  anon  they  met  with  Sir  La  Cote  Male  Taile,  and  first  Sir  La  Cote  Male 
Taile  smote  down  Sir  Pleine  de  Force,  and  soon  after  he  smote  down  Sir 

•  Probably  a  bridge  with  a  tower  to  defend  the  approach  to  it. 

374  The  Knights  of  the  Middle  Ages, 

Pleine  de  Amours  ;  and  then  they  dressed  themselves  to  their  shields  and 
swords,  and  so  they  bade  Sir  La  Cote  Male  Taile  alight,  and  so  he  did, 
and  there  was  dashing  and  foining  with  swords.  And  so  they  began  full 
hard  to  assay  Sir  La  Cote  Tale  Maile,  and  many  great  wounds  they  gave 
him  upon  his  head  and  upon  his  breast  and  upon  his  shoulders.  And  as 
he  might  ever  among  he  gave  sad  strokes  again.  And  then  the  two 
brethren  traced  and  traversed  for  to  be  on  both  hands  of  Sir  La  Cote  Male 
Taile.  But  by  fine  force  and  knighly  prowess  he  got  them  afore  him. 
And  so  then  when  he  felt  himself  so  wounded  he  doubled  his  strokes,  and 
gave  them  so  many  wounds  that  he  felled  them  to  the  earth,  and  would 
have  slain  them  had  they  not  yielded  them.  And  right  so  Sir  La  Cote 
Male  Taile  took  the  best  horse  that  there  was  of  them  two,  and  so  rode 
forth  his  way  to  that  other  fortress  and  bridge,  and  there  he  met  with  the 
third  brother,  whose  name  was  Sir  Plenorius,  a  full  noble  knight,  and 
there  they  justed  together,  and  either  smote  other  down,  horse  and  man, 
to  the  earth.  And  then  they  two  avoided  their  horses  and  dressed  their 
shields  and  drew  their  swords  and  gave  many  sad  strokes,  and  one  while 
the  one  knight  was  afore  on  the  bridge  and  another  while  the  other.  And 
thus  they  fought  two  hours  and  more  and  never  rested.  Then  Sir  La  Cote 
Male  Taile  sunk  down  upon  the  earth,  for  what  for  wounds  and  what  for 
blood  he  might  not  stand.  Then  the  other  knight  had  pity  of  him,  and 
said,  '  Fair  young  knight,  dismay  you  not,  for  if  ye  had  been  fresh  when  ye 
met  with  me,  as  I  was,  I  know  well  I  should  not  have  endured  so  long  as 
ye  have  done,  and  therefore  for  your  noble  deeds  and  valiantness  I  shall 
show  you  great  kindness  and  gentleness  in  all  that  ever  I  may.'  And 
forthwith  the  noble  knight,  Sir  Plenorius,  took  him  up  in  his  arms  and  led 
him  into  his  tower.  And  then  he  commended  him  the  more  and  made 
him  for  to  search  him  and  for  to  stop  his  bleeding  wounds.  '  Sir,'  said  Sir 
La  Cote  Male  Taile,  '  withdraw  you  from  me,  and  hie  you  to  yonder 
bridge  again,  for  there  will  meet  you  another  manner  knight  than  ever  I 
was.'  Then  Sir  Plenorius  gat  his  horse  and  came  with  a  great  spear  in  his 
hand  galloping  as  the  hurl  wind  had  borne  him  towards  Sir  Launcelot, 
and  then  they  began  to  feutre*  their  spears,  and  came  together  like 

•  Couch. 

Knight- Errantry.  375 

thunder,  and  smote  either  other  so  mightily  that  their  horses  fell  down 
under  them;  and  then  they  avoided  their  horses  and  drew  out  their 
swords,  and  like  two  bulls  they  lashed  together  with  great  strokes  and 
foins ;  but  ever  Sir  Launcelot  recovered  ground  upon  him,  and  Sir  Pleno- 
rius  traced  to  have  from  about  him,  and  Sir  Launcelot  would  not  surfer 
that,  but  bore  him  backer  and  backer,  till  he  came  nigh  the  gate  tower,  and 
then  said  Sir  Launcelot, '  I  know  thee  well  for  a  good  knight,  but  wot  thou 
well  thy  life  and  death  is  in  my  hands,  and  therefore  yield  thou  to  me  and 
thy  prisoners.'  The  other  answered  not  a  word,  but  struck  mightily  upon 
Sir  Launcelot's  helm  that  fire  sprang  out  of  his  eyes ;  then  Sir  Launcelot 
doubled  his  strokes  so  thick  and  smote  at  him  so  mightily  that  he  made  him 
to  kneel  upon  his  knees,  and  therewith  Sir  Launcelot  lept  upon  him,  and 
pulled  him  down  grovelling;  then  Sir  Plenorius  yielded  him  and  his 
tower  and  all  his  prisoners  at  his  will,  and  Sir  Launcelot  received  him  and 
took  his  troth."  We  must  tell  briefly  the  chivalrous  sequel.  Sir  Launcelot 
offered  to  Sir  La  Cote  Male  Taile  all  the  possessions  of  the  conquered 
knight,  but  he  refused  to  receive  them,  and  begged  Sir  Launcelot  to  let 
Sir  Plenorius  retain  his  livelihood  on  condition  he  would  be  King  Arthur's 
knight, — " '  Full  well'  said  Sir  launcelot,  *  so  that  he  will  come  to  the 
court  of  King  Arthur  and  become  his  man  and  his  three  brethren.  And 
as  for  you,  Sir  Plenorius,  I  will  undertake,  at  the  next  feast,  so  there  be  a 
place  void,  that  ye  shall  be  Knight  of  the  Round  Table.'  Then  Sir 
Launcelot  and  Sir  La  Cote  Male  Taile  rested  them  there,  and  then  they 
had  merry  cheer  and  good  rest  and  many  good  games,  and  there  were 
many  fair  ladies."  In  the  woodcut  we  see  Sir  La  Cote  Male  Taile,  who 
has  just  overthrown  Sir  Pleine  de  Force  at  the  foot  of  the  bridge,  and  the 
gentlemen  and  yeomen  are  looking  on  out  of  the  windows  and  over  the 
batdements  of  the  gate  tower. 

The  iUuminators  are  never  tired  of  representing  battles  and  sieges ;  and 
the  general  impression  which  we  gather  from  them  is  that  a  mediaeval 
combat  must  have  presented  to  the  lookers-on  a  confused  nul&e  of  rushing 
horses  and  armoured  men  in  violent  action,  with  a  forest  of  weapons 
overhead — great  swords,  and  falchions,  and  axes,  and  spears,  with 
pennons   fluttering   aloft   here  and  there  in  the  breeze  of  the  combat. 


The  Knights  of  the  Middle  Ages. 

We  almost  fancy  we  can  see  the  dust  caused  by  the  prancing  horses, 
and  hear  the  clash  of  weapons  and  the  hoarse  war-cries,  and  sometimes 
can  almost  hear  the  shriek  which  bursts  from  the  maddened  horse,  or 
the  groan  of  the  man  who  is  wounded  and  helpless  under  the  trampling 
hoofs.  The  woodcut  introduced  represents  such  a  scene  in  a  very 
spirited  way.  But  it  is  noticeable  among  a  hundred  similar  scenes  for  one 
incident,  which  is  very  unusual,  and  which  gives  us  a  glimpse  of  another 
aspect  of  mediaeval  war.  It  will  be  seen  that  the  combat  is  taking  place 
outside  a  castle  or  fortified  town;  and  that,  on  a  sudden,  in  the  con- 

A  Sally  across  the  Drawbridge. 

fusion  of  the  combat,  a  side  gate  has  been  opened,  and  the  bridge  lowered, 
and  a  solid  column  of  men-at-arms,  on  foot,  is  marching  in  military  array 
across  the  bridge,  in  order  to  turn  the  flank  of  the  assailant  chivalry.  We 
do  not  happen  to  know  a  representation  of  this  early  age  of  anything  so 
thoroughly  soldierly  in  its  aspect  as  this  sally.  The  incident  itself  indi- 
cates something  more  like  regular  war  than  the  usual  confused  mingling  of 
knights  so  well  represented  on  the  left  side  of  the  picture.  The  fact  of 
men-at-arms,  armed  cap-a-pied,  acting   on  foot,  is  not  very  usual  at  this 

Tactics  and  Strategy.  377 

period ;  their  unmistakable  military  order,  as  they  march  two  and  two 
with  shields  held  in  the  same  attitude  and  spears  sloped  at  the  same 
angle,  speaks  of  accurate  drill.  The  armorial  bearings  on  the  shield  of  one 
of  the  foremost  rank  perhaps  point  out  the  officer  in  command. 

It  seems  to  be  commonly  assumed  that  the  soldiers  of  the  Middle  Ages 
had  little,  if  anything,  like  our  modern  drill  and  tactics ;  that  the  men 
were  simply  put  into  the  field  in  masses,  according  to  some  rude  initial 
plan  of  the  general,  but  that  after  the  first  charge  the  battle  broke  up  into 
a  series  of  chance-medley  combats,  in  which  the  leaders  took  a  personal 
share  ;  and  that  the  only  further  piece  of  generalship  consisted  in  bringing 
up  a  body  of  reserve  to  strengthen  a  corps  which  was  giving  ground,  or  to 
throw  an  overwhelming  force  upon  some  corps  of  the  enemy  which  seemed 
to  waver. 

It  is  true  that  we  find  very  little  information  about  the  mediaeval  drill 
or  tactics,  but  it  is  very  possible  that  there  was  more  of  both  than  is  com- 
monly supposed.  Any  man  whose  duty  it  was  to  marshal  and  handle  a 
body  of  troops  would  very  soon,  even  if  left  to  his  own  wit,  invent  enough 
of  drill  to  enable  him  to  move  his  men  about  from  place  to  place,  and  to 
put  them  into  the  different  formations  necessary  to  enable  them  effectively 
to  act  on  the  offensive  or  defensive  under  different  circumstances.  A 
leader  whose  duty  it  was  to  command  several  bodies  of  troops  would 
invent  the  elements  of  tactics,  enough  to  enable  him  to  combine  them  in  a 
general  plan  of  battie,  and  to  take  advantage  of  the  different  turns  of  the 
fight.  Experience  would  rapidly  ripen  the  knowledge  of  military  men, 
and  of  experience  they  had  only  too  much.  It  is  true  that  the  armies  of 
mediaeval  England  consisted  chiefly  of  levies  of  men  who  were  not  pro- 
fessional soldiers,  and  the  officers  and  commanders  were  marked  out  for 
leadership  by  their  territorial  possessions,  not  by  their  military  skill.  But 
the  men  were  not  unaccustomed  to  their  weapons,  and  were  occasionally 
mustered  for  feudal  display;  and  the  country  gentlemen  who  officered 
them  were  trained  to  military  exercises  as  a  regular  part  of  their  education, 
and,  we  may  assume,  to  so  much  of  military  skill  as  was  necessary  to 
fulfil  their  part  as  knights.  Then  there  were  mercenary  captains,  who  by 
continuous  devotion  to  war  acquired  great  knowledge  and  experience  in  all 

378  The  Knights  of  the  Middle  Ages. 

military  affairs ;  and  the  men  who  had  to  do  with  them,  either  as  friends  or 
foes,  learnt  from  them.  We  need  only  glance  down  the  line  of  our  kings 
to  find  abundance  of  great  captains  among  them — William  the  Conqueror, 
and  Stephen,  and  Richard  I.,  and  Edward  I.  and  III.,  and  Henry  IV. 
and  V.,  and  Edward  IV.,  and  Richard  III.  And  military  skill  equal  to 
the  direction  of  armies  was  no  less  common  among  the  nobility;  and 
ability  to  take  command  of  his  own  contingent  was  expected  of  every  one 
who  held  his  lands  on  condition  of  being  always  ready  and  able  to  follow 
his  lord's  banner  to  the  field. 

In  the  Saxon  days  the  strength  of  the  army  seems  to  have  consisted  of 
footmen,  and  their  formation  was  generally  in  close  and  deep  ranks,  who, 
joining  their  shoulders  together,  formed  an  impenetrable  defence ;  wield- 
ing long  heavy  swords  and  battle-axes,  they  made  a  terrible  assault.  Some 
insight  into  the  tactics  of  the  age  is  given  by  William  of  Malmesbury's 
assertion  that  at  Hastings  the  Normans  made  a  feigned  flight,  which  drew 
the  Saxons  from  their  close  array,  and  then  turning  upon  them,  took  them 
at  advantage ;  and  repeated  this  manoeuvre  more  than  once  at  the  word 
of  command. 

The  strength  of  the  Norman  armies,  on  the  other  hand,  consisted  of 
knights  and  mounted  men-at-arms.  The  military  engines  were  placed  in 
front,  and  commenced  the  engagement  with  their  missiles ;  the  archers 
and  slingers  were  placed  on  the  wings.  The  crowd  of  half-armed  footmen 
usually  formed  the  first  line ;  the  mounted  troops  were  drawn  up  behind 
them  in  three  lines,  whose  successive  charges  formed  the  main  attack  of 
the  engagement.  Occasionally,  however,  dismounted  men-at-arms  seem 
to  have  been  used  by  some  skilful  generals  with  great  effect.  In  several 
of  the  battles  of  Stephen's  reign,  this  unusual  mode  appears  to  have  been 
followed,  under  the  influence  of  the  foreign  mercenary  captains  in  the 
king's  pay. 

Generals  took  pains  to  secure  any  possible  advantage  from  the  nature 
of  the  ground,  and  it  follows  that  the  plan  of  the  battle  must  have  turned 
sometimes  on  the  defence  or  seizure  of  some  commanding  point  which 
formed  the  key  of  the  position.  Ambuscades  were  a  favourite  device  of 
which  we  not  unfrequently  read,  and  night  surprises  were  equally  common. 

Tactics  and  Strategy.  379 

We  read  also  occasionally  of  stratagems,  especially  in  the  capture  of 
fortresses,  which  savour  rather  of  romance  than  of  the  stern  realities  of 
war.  In  short,  perhaps  the  warfare  of  that  day  was  not  so  very  inferior 
in  military  skill  to  that  of  our  own  times  as  some  suppose.  In  our  last 
war  the  charge  at  Balaklava  was  as  chivalrous  a  deed  as  ever  was  done 
in  the  Middle  Ages,  and  Inkerman  a  fight  of  heroes  ;  but  neither  of  them 
displayed  more  military  science  than  was  displayed  by  the  Norman 
chivalry  who  charged  at  Hastings,  or  the  Saxon  billmen  whose  sturdy 
courage  all  but  won  the  fatal  day. 



O  attempt  to  represent  the  knights  in  their  manor-houses  and 
castles  would  be  to  enter  upon  an  essay  on  the  domestic  and 
military  architecture  of  the  Middle  Ages,  which  would  be  beyond 
the  plan  of  these  sketches  of  the  mediaeval  chivalry.  The  student  may  find 
information  on  the  subject  in  Mr.  Parker's  "  Domestic  Architecture,"  in 
Grose's  "  Military  Antiquities,"  in  Viollet  le  Due's  "  Architecture  du  Moyen 
Age,"  and  scattered  over  the  publications  of  the  various  antiquarian  and 
architectural  societies.  We  must,  however,  say  a  few  words  as  to  the  way 
in  which  the  knight  defended  his  castle  when  attacked  in  it,  and  how  he 
attacked  his  neighbour's  castle  or  his  enemy's  town,  in  private  feud  or 
public  war. 

It  seems  to  be  a  common  impression  that  the  most  formidable  aspect  of 
mediaeval  war  was  a  charge  of  knights  with  vizor  down  and  lance  in  rest  ; 
and  that  these  gallant  cavaliers  only  pranced  their  horses  round  and  round 
the  outer  margin  of  the  moat  of  a  mediaeval  castle,  or  if  they  did  dismount 
and  try  to  take  the  fortress  by  assault,  would  rage  in  vain  against  its  thick 
walls  and  barred  portcullis ;  as  in  the  accompanying  woodcut  from  a  MS. 
romance  of  the  early  part  of  the  14th  century  (Add.  10,292,  f.  v.,  date 
a.d.  1316),  where  the  king  on  his  curveting  charger  couches  his  lance 
against  the  castle  wall,  and  has  only  his  shield  to  oppose  to  the  great  stone 
which  is  about  to  be  hurled  down  upon  his  head.  The  impression  is,  no 
doubt,  due  to  the  fact  that  many  people  have  read  romances,  ancient  and 
modern,  which  concern  themselves  with  the  personal  adventures  of  their 
heroes,  but  have  not  read  mediaeval  history,  which  tells — even  more  than 



enough— of  battles  and  sieges.  They  have  only  had  the  knight  put  before 
them — as  in  the  early  pages  of  these  chapters — in  the  pomp  and  pageantry 
of  chivalry.  They  have  not  seen  him  as  the  captain  and  soldier,  directing 
and  wielding  the  engines  of  war. 

Suppose  the  king  and  his  chivalry  in  the  following  woodcut  to  be  only 
summoning  the  castle ;  and  suppose  them,  on  receiving  a  refusal  to  sur- 
render, to  resolve  upon  an  assault.  They  retire  a  few  hundred  yards  and 
dismount,  and  put  their  horses  under  the  care  of  a  guard.  Presently  they 
return  supported  by  a  strong  body  of  archers,  who  ply  the  mail-clad  de- 

Summoning'  the  Castle. 

fenders  with  such  a  hail  of  arrows  that  they  are  driven  to  seek  shelter  behind 
the  battlements.  Seizing  that  moment,  a  party  of  camp  followers  run 
forward  with  a  couple  of  planks,  which  they  throw  over  the  moat  to  make 
a  temporary  bridge.  They  are  across  in  an  instant,  and  place  scaling- 
ladders  against  the  walls.  The  knights,  following  close  at  their  heels, 
mount  rapidly,  each  man  carrying  his  shield  over  his  head,  so  that  the  bare 
ladder  is  converted  into  a  covered  stair,  from  whose  shield-roof  arrows 
glint  and  stones  roll  off  innocuous.  It  is  easy  to  see  that  a  body  of  the 
enemy  might  thus,  in  a  few  minutes,  effect  a  lodgment  on  the  castle-wall, 
and  open  a  way  for  the  whole  party  of  assailants  into  the  interior. 


The  Knights  of  the  Middle  Ages. 

But  the  assailed  may  succeed  in  throwing  down  the  ladders ;  or  in  beat- 
ing the  enemy  off  them  by  hurling  down  great  stones  ready  stored  against 
such  an  emergency,  or  heaving  the  coping-stones  off  the  battlements ;  or 
they  may  succeed  in  preventing  the  assailants  from  effecting  a  lodgment  on 
the  wall  by  a  hand  to  hand  encounter ;  and  thus  the  assault  may  be  foiled 
and  beaten  off.  Still  our  mediaeval  captain  has  other  resources ;  he  will 
next  order  up  his  "  gyns,"  i.e.  engines  of  war. 

The  name  applies  chiefly  to  machines  constructed  for  the  purpose  of 
hurling  heavy  missiles.  The  ancient  nations  of  antiquity  possessed  such 
machines,  and  the  knowledge  of  them  descended  to  mediaeval  times.  There 

The  Assault, 

seems,  however,  to  be  this  great  difference  between  the  classical  and  the 
mediaeval  engines,  that  the  former  were  constructed  on  the  principle  of  the 
bow,  the  latter  on  the  principle  of  the  sling.  The  classical  ballista  was,  in 
fact,  a  huge  cross-bow,  made  in  a  complicated  way  and  worked  by  ma- 
chinery. The  mediaeval  trebuchet  was  a  sling  wielded  by  a  gigantic  arm  of 
wood.  In  mediaeval  Latin  the  ancient  name  of  the  ballista  is  sometimes 
found,  but  in  the  mediaeval  pictures  the  principle  of  the  engines  illustrated 
is  always  that  which  we  have  described.  We  meet  also  in  mediaeval 
writings  with  the  names  of  the  mangona  and  mangonella  and  the  catapult, 
but  they  were  either  different  names  for  the  same  engine,  or  names  for 

Military  Engines.  383 

different  species  of  the  same  genus.  The  woodcut  here  introduced  from 
the  MS.  Add.  10,294,  f.  81  v.,  gives  a  representation  of  a  trebuchet  A  still 
earlier  representation — viz.,  of  the  thirteenth  century — of  machines  of  the 
same  kind  is  to  be  found  in  the  Arabic  MS.  quoted  in  a  treatise,  "  Du 
feu  Gregois,"  by  MM.  Fave  and  Reinaud,  and  leads  to  the  supposition 
that  the  sling  principle  in  these  machines  may  have  been  introduced  from 
the  East.  There  are  other  representations  of  a  little  later  date  than  that 
in  the  text  (viz.,  about  a.d.  1330)  in  the  Royal  MS.  16  G.  VI.,  which  are 
engraved  in  Shaw's  "  Dresses  and  Decorations."  We  also  possess  a  con- 
temporary description  of  the  machine  in  the  work  of  Gilles  Colonne  (who 
died  a.d.  1316),  written  for  Philip  the  Fair  of  France.*  "  Of  pcrriers? 
he  says,  "  there  are  four  kinds,  and  in  all  these  machines  there  is  a  beam 
which  is  raised  and  lowered  by  means  of  a  counterpoise,  a  sling  being  at- 
tached to  the  end  of  the  beam  to  discharge  the  stone.  Sometimes  the 
counterpoise  is  not  sufficient,  and  then  they  attach  ropes  to  it  to  move  the 
beam."  This  appears  to  be  the  case  in  our  illustration.  The  rope  seems 
to  be  passed  through  a  ring  in  the  platform  of  the  engine,  so  that  the  force 
applied  to  the  rope  acts  to  the  greater  advantage  in  aid  of  the  weight  of 
the  beam.  "  The  counterpoise  may  either  be  fixed  or  movable,  or  both  at 
once.  In  the  fixed  counterpoise  a  box  is  fastened  to  the  end  of  the  beam, 
and  filled  with  stones  or  sand,  or  any  heavy  body."  One  would  not, 
perhaps,  expect  such  a  machine  to  possess  any  precision  of  action,  but 
according  to  our  author  the  case  was  far  otherwise.  "  These  machines," 
he  continues,  "anciently  called  trabutium,  cast  their  missiles  with  the 
utmost  exactness,  because  the  weight  acts  in  a  uniform  manner.  Their 
aim  is  so  sure,  that  one  may,  so  to  say,  hit  a  needle.  If  the  gyn  carries  too 
far,  it  must  be  drawn  back  or  loaded  with  a  heavier  stone  ;  if  the  contrary, 
then  it  must  be  advanced  or  a  smaller  stone  supplied  ;  for  without  atten- 
tention  to  the  weight  of  the  stone,  one  cannot  hope  to  reach  the  given 
mark."  "  Others  of  these  machines  have  a  movable  counterpoise  attached 
to  the  beam,  turning  upon  an  axis.  This  variety  the  Romans  called  biff  a. 
The  third  kind,  which  is  called  tripantum,  has  two  weights,  one  fixed  to 
the  Deam  and  the  other  movable  round  it.     By  this  means  it  throws  with 

•  Hewitt's  "  Ancient  Armour,"  i.  p.  349. 

384  The  Knights  of  the  Middle  Ages. 

more  exactness  than  the  biffa,  and  to  a  greater  distance  than  the  trebuchet 
The  fourth  sort,  in  lieu  of  weights  fixed  to  the  beam,  has  a  number  of 
ropes,  and  is  discharged  by  means  of  men  pulling  simultaneously  at  the 
cords.  This  last  kind  does  not  cast  such  large  stones  as  the  others,  but  it 
has  the  advantage  that  it  may  be  more  rapidly  loaded  and  discharged  than 
they.  In  using  the  perriers  by  night  it  is  necessary  to  attach  a  lighted  body 
to  the  projectile.  By  this  means  one  may  discover  the  force  of  the  ma- 
chine, and  regulate  the  weight  of  the  stone  accordingly."  *  This,  then,  is 
the  engine  which  our  captain,  repulsed  in  his  attempt  to  take  the  place  by 
a  coup  de  main,  has  ordered  up,  adjusting  it,  no  doubt,  like  a  good  Cftptain, 
with  his  own  eye  and  hand,  until  he  has  got  it,  "so  to  say,  to  hit  a 
neeedle,"  on  the  weak  points  of  the  place.  It  was  usual  in  great  sieges 
to  have  several  of  them,  so  that  a  whole  battery  might  be  set  to  work  to 
overmaster  the  defence. 

We  must  bear  in  mind  that  similar  engines  were,  it  is  probable,  usually 
mounted  on  the  towers  of  the  castle.  We  should  judge  from  the  roundness  of 
the  stones  which  the  defenders  in  both  the  preceding  woodcuts  are  throwing 
down  by  hand  upon  the  enemy  immediately  beneath,  that  they  are  the 
stones  provided  for  the  military  engines.  We  find  that,  as  in  modern  times 
cannon  is  set  to  silence  the  cannon  of  the  enemy,  so  that  a  battle  becomes, 
for  a  time  at  least,  an  artillery  duel,  so  engine  was  set  to  silence  engine. 
In  the  account  which  Guillaume  des  Ormes  gives  of  his  defence  of  the 
French  town  of  Carcasonne  in  1240  a.d.,  he  says :  "They  set  up  a  man- 
gonel before  our  barbican,  when  we  lost  no  time  in  opposing  to  it  from 
within  an  excellent  Turkish  petrary,  which  played  upon  the  mangonel  and 
those  about  it,  so  that  when  they  essayed  to  cast  upon  us,  and  saw  the  beam 
of  our  petrary  in  motion,  they  fled,  utterly  abandoning  their  mangonel." 

There  was  also  an  engine  called  an  arbalasi,  or  spurgardon,  or  espringale, 
which  was  a  huge  cross-bow  mounted  on  wheels,  so  as  to  be  movable  like 
a  field-piece ;  it  threw  great  pointed  bolts  with  such  force  as  to  pass  suc- 
cessively through  several  men. 

If  the  engines  of  the  besiegers  were  silenced,  or  failed  to  produce  anv 

*  The  album  of  Villars  de  Honnecourt,  of  the  thirteenth  century,  contains  directions 
for  constructing  the  trebuchet. 

Sieges.  3&5 

decisive  impression  on  the  place,  the  captain  of  the  assailants  might  try  the 
effect  of  the  ram.  We  seldom,  indeed,  hear  of  its  use  in  the  Middle  Ages, 
but  one  instance,  at  least,  is  recorded  by  Richard  of  Devizes,  who  says  that 
Richard  I.,  at  the  siege  of  Messina,  forced  in  the  gates  of  the  city  by  the 
application  of  the  battering-ram,  and  so  won  his  way  into  the  place,  and 
captured  it.  The  walls  of  mediaeval  fortifications  were  so  immensely 
thick,  that  a  ram  would  be  little  likely  to  break  them.  The  gates,  too, 
of  a  castle  or  fortified  gate-tower  were  very  strong.  If  the  reader  will 
look  at  the  picture  of  a  siege  of  a  castle,  given  on  page  373,  he  will 
see  a  representation  of  a  casde-gate,  which  will  help  him  to  understand 
its  defences.  First  he  will  see  that  the  drawbridge  is  raised,  so  that  the 
assailant  has  to  bridge  the  moat  before  he  can  bring  his  battering-ram  to 
bear.  Suppose  the  yawning  gulf  bridged  with  planks  or  filled  in  with 
fascines,  and  the  ram  brought  into  position,  under  fire  from  the  loops  of 
the  projecting  towers  of  the  gate  as  well  as  from  the  neighbouring  batde- 
ments,  then  the  bridge  itself  forms  an  outer  door  which  must  first  be 
battered  down.  Behind  it  will  be  found  the  real  outer-door,  made  as 
strong  as  oak  timber  and  iron  bolts  can  make  it.  That  down,  there  is  next 
the  grated  portcullis  seen  in  two  previous  woodcuts,  against  which  the  ram 
would  rattle  with  a  great  clang  of  iron ;  but  the  grating,  with  its  wide 
spaces,  and  having  plenty  of  "  play  "  in  its  stone  groove,  would  baffle  the 
blows  by  the  absence  of  a  solid  resistance,  and  withstand  them  by  the 
tenacity  of  wrought-iron.  Even  if  the  bars  were  bent  and  torn  till  they 
afforded  a  passage,  the  assailants  would  find  themselves  in  the  narrow 
space  within  the  gate-tower  confronted  by  another  door,  and  exposed  to 
missiles  poured  upon  them  from  above.  It  is,  perhaps,  no  wonder  that  we 
hear  little  of  the  use  of  the  ram  in  mediaeval  times ;  though  it  might  be 
useful  occasionally  to  drive  in  some  ill-defended  postern. 

The  use  of  the  regular  mine  for  effecting  a  breach  in  the  wall  of  a  fortified 
place  was  well  known,  and  often  brought  to  bear.  The  miners  began  their 
work  at  some  distance,  and  drove  a  shaft  underground  towards  the  part  of 
the  fortifications  which  seemed  most  assailable ;  they  excavated  beneath 
the  foundations  of  the  wall,  supporting  the  substructure  with  wooden  props 
until  they  had  finished  their  work.     Then  they  set  fire  to  the  props,  and 

2  c 


The  Knights  of  the  Middle  Ages. 

retired  to  see  the  unsupported  weight  of  the  wall  bringing  it  down  in  a 
heap  of  ruins.  The  operation  of  mining  was  usually  effected  under  the  pro- 
tection of  a  temporary  pent-house,  called  a  cat  or  sow.  William  of  Malmes- 
bury  describes  the  machine  as  used  in  the  siege  of  Jerusalem,  at  the  end  of 
the  eleventh  century.  "  It  is  constructed,"  he  says,  "  of  slight  timbers,  the 
roof  covered  with  boards  and  wicker-work,  and  the  sides  protected  with  un- 
dressed hides,  to  protect  those  who  are  within,  who  proceed  to  undermine 
the  foundations  of  the  walls."  Our  next  woodcut  gives  a  very  clear 
illustration  of  one  of  these  machines,  which  has  been  moved  on  its  wheels 

up  to  the  outer  wall  of  a  castle,  and 
beneath  its  protection  a  party  of 
men-at-arms  are  energetically  plying 
their  miner's  tools,  to  pick  away  the 
foundation,  and  so  allow  a  portion 
of  the  wall  to  settle  down  and  leave 
an  entrance.  The  methods  in  which 
this  mode  of  attack  was  met  were 
various.  We  all  remember  the 
Border  heroine,  who,  when  her 
castle  was  thus  attacked,  declared 
she  would  make  the  sow  farrow,  viz., 
by  casting  down  a  huge  fragment  of 
stone  upon  it.  That  this  was  one 
way  of  defence  is  shown  in  the 
woodcut,  where  one  of  the  defenders, 
with  energetic  action,  is  casting 
down  a  huge  stone  upon  the  sow. 
That  the  roof  was  made  strong 
enough  to  resist  such  a  natural  means  of  offence  is  shown  by  the  stones 
which  are  represented  as  lodged  all  along  it.  Another  more  subtle 
counteraction,  shown  in  the  woodcut,  was  to  pour  boiling  water  or  boiling 
oil  upon  it,  that  it  might  fall  through  the  interstices  of  the  roof,  and  make 
the  interior  untenable.  No  doubt  means  were  taken  to  make  the  roof 
liquid-tight,  for  the  illustration  represents  another  mode  of  counter-action 

The  Cat.     (Royal,  16  G  VI.) 

Military  Engines.  387 

(of  which  we  have  met  with  no  other  suggestion),  by  driving  sharp-pointed 
piles  into  the  roof,  so  as  to  make  holes  and  cracks  through  which  the  boil 
ing  liquid  might  find  an  entrance.  If  these  means  of  counteracting  the 
work  of  the  cat  seemed  likely  to  be  unavailing,  it  still  remained  to  throw 
up  an  inner  line  of  wall,  which,  when  the  breach  was  made,  should  extend 
from  one  side  to  the  other  of  the  unbroken  wall,  and  so  complete  the  cir- 
cumvallation.  This,  we  have  evidence,  was  sometimes  done  with  timber 
and  planks,  and  a  sort  of  scaffolding  was  erected  on  the  inner  side,  which 
maintained  the  communication  along  the  top  of  the  walls,  and  enabled  the 
soldiers  to  man  the  top  of  this  wooden  wall  and  offer  a  new  resistance  to 
the  besiegers  as  they  poured  into  the  breach.  The  mine  was  also,  in 
ancient  as  in  modern  times,  met  by  a  counter-mine. 

Another  usual  machine  for  facilitating  the  siege  of  fortified  places  was  a 
movable  tower.  Such  an  engine  was  commonly  prepared  beforehand,  and 
taken  to  pieces  and  transported  with  the  army  as  a  normal  part  of  the  siege- 
train.  When  arrived  at  the  scene  of  operations,  it  was  put  together  at  a 
distance,  and  then  pushed  forward  on  wheels,  until  it  confronted  the  walls 
of  the  place  against  which  it  was  to  operate.  It  was  intended  to  put  the 
besiegers  on  a  level  and  equality  with  the  besieged.  From  the  roof  the 
assailants  could  command  the  batdements  and  the  interior  of  the  place, 
and  by  their  archers  could  annoy  the  defence.  A  movable  part  of  the  front 
of  the  tower  suddenly  let  fall  upon  the  opposite  battlements,  at  once  opened 
a  door  and  formed  a  bridge,  by  which  the  besiegers  could  make  a  rush 
upon  the  walls  and  effect  a  lodgment  if  successful,  or  retreat  if  unsuccessful 
to  their  own  party. 

Such  a  tower  was  constructed  by  Richard  I.  in  Cyprus,  as  part  of  his 
preparation  for  his  Crusade.  An  illustration  of  a  tower  thus  opposed  to  a 
castle — not  a  very  good  illustration — is  to  be  found  in  the  Royal  MS., 
16  G.  VI.,  at  folio  278  v.  Another,  a  great  square  tower,  just  level  with 
the  opposing  battlements,  with  a  kind  of  sloping  roof  to  ward  off  missiles, 
is  shown  in  the  MS.  Chroniques  tT Angleterres  (Royal  16,  E.  IV.),  which  was 
illuminated  for  Edward  IV.  Again,  at  f.  201  of  the  same  MS.,  is  another 
representation  of  wooden  towers  opposed  to  a  city. 

If  the  besieged  could  form  a  probable  conjecture  as  to  the  point  of  the 

388  The  Knights  of  the  Middle  Ages. 

walls  towards  which  the  movable  tower,  whose  threatening  height  they  saw 
gradually  growing  at  a  bow-shot  from  their  walls,  would  be  ultimately  di- 
rected, they  sometimes  sent  out  under  cover  of  night  and  dug  pitfalls,  into 
which,  as  its  huge  bulk  was  rolled  creaking  forward,  its  fore  wheels  might 
suddenly  sink,  and  so  the  machine  fall  forward,  and  remain  fixed  and  use- 
less. As  it  approached,  they  also  tried  to  set  it  on  fire  by  missiles  tipped 
with  combustibles.  If  it  fairly  attained  its  position,  they  assailed  every  loop 
and  crevice  in  it  with  arrows  and  crossbow  bolts,  and  planted  a  strong 
body  of  men-at-arms  on  the  walls  opposite  to  it,  and  in  the  neighbouring 
towers,  to  repel  the  "  boarders  "  in  personal  combat.  A  bold  and  enter- 
prising captain  did  not  always  wait  for  the  approach  of  these  engines  of 
assault,  but  would  counter-work  them  as  he  best  could  from  the  shelter  of 
his  walls.  He  would  sometimes  lower  the  drawbridge,  and  make  a  sudden 
sally  upon  the  unfinished  tower  or  the  advancing  sow,  beat  off  the  handful 
of  men  who  were  engaged  about  it,  pile  up  the  fragments  and  chips  lying 
about,  pour  a  few  pots  of  oil  or  tar  over  the  mass,  and  set  fire  to  it,  and 
return  in  triumph  to  watch  from  his  battlements  how  his  fiery  ally  would, 
in  half  an  hour,  destroy  his  enemy's  work  of  half  a  month.  In  the  early 
fourteenth  century  MS.  Add.  10,294,  at  fol.  740,  we  have  a  small  picture 
of  a  fight  before  a  castle  or  town,  in  which  we  see  a  column  of  men-at-arms 
crossing  the  drawbridge  on  such  an  expedition.  And  again,  in  the  plates 
in  which  Hans  Burgmaier  immortalised  the  events  of  the  reign  of  the 
Emperor  Maximilian,  a  very  artistic  representation  of  a  body  of  men-at- 
arms,  with  their  long  lances,  crowding  through  the  picturesque  gate  and  over 
the  drawbridge,  brings  such  an  incident  vividly  before  us. 

The  besiegers  on  their  part  did  not  neglect  to  avail  themselves  of  such 
shelter  as  they  could  find  or  make  from  the  shot  and  from  the  sallies  of  the 
enemy,  so  as  to  equalise  as  much  as  practicable  the  conditions  of  the  con- 
test. The  archers  of  the  castle  found  shelter  behind  the  merlons  of  the 
battlements,  and  had  the  windows  from  which  they  shot  screened  by 
movable  shutters;  as  may  be  seen  in  the  next  woodcut  of  the  assault 
on  a  castle.  It  would  have  put  the  archers  of  the  assailants  at  a 
great  disadvantage  if  they  had  had  to  stand  out  in  the  open  space,  exposed 
defenceless  to  the  aim  of  the  foe  ;  all  neighbouring  trees  which  could  give 

Military  Engines. 


shelter  were,  of  course,  cut  down,  in  order  to  reduce  them  to  this  defence- 
less condition,  and  works  were  erected  so  as  to  command  every  possible 
coigne  of  vantage  which  the  nooks  and  angles  of  the  walls  might  have 
afforded.  But  the  archers  of  the  besiegers  sought  to  put  themselves  on 
more  equal  terms  with  their  opponents  by  using  the  part's  or  mantelet.  The 
pavis  was  a  tall  shield,  curved  so  as  partly  to  envelop  the  person  of  the 
bearer,  broad  at  the  top  and 
tapering  to  the  feet.  We  some- 
times see  cross-bowmen  carrying 
it  slung  at  their  backs  (as  in 
Harl.  4,379,  and  Julius  K  IV., 
f.  219,  engraved  on  p.  294),  so 
thnt  after  discharging  a  shot  they 
could  turn  round  and  be  shel- 
tered by  the  great  shield  while 
they  wound  up  their  instrument 
for  another  shot.  Sometimes  this 
shield  seems  to  have  been  simply 
three  planks  of  wood  nailed  to- 
gether, which  stood  upright  on 
the  ground,  and  protected  the 
soldier  effectively  on  three  sides. 
There  are  illustrations  of  it  in 
the  MS.  Royal  20  C  vii.  (temp. 
Rich.  II.),  at  f.  19,  £  24  v.,  and 
f.  29  v.,  and  in  the  MS.  HarL 
4,382,  f.  133  v.  and  f.  154  v. 
The  mantelet  was  a  shield  still 
more  ample,  and  capable  of  being 
fixed  upright  by  a  prop,  so  that  Use  °f  the  Pav">  m- 

it  formed  a  kind  of  little  movable  fort